By Yuichiro Hayashi, Yoshiaki Tagawa, Satoshi Yawata, Shigetada Nakanishi, Kazuo Funabiki
Controlling neural activity with high spatio-temporal resolution is desired for studying how neural circuit dynamics control animal behavior. Conventional methods for manipulating neural activity, such as electrical microstimulation or pharmacological blockade, have poor spatial and/or temporal resolution. Algal protein channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) enables millisecond-precision control of neural activity. However, a photostimulation method for high spatial resolution mapping in vivo is yet to be established. Here, we report a novel optical/electrical probe, consisting of optical fiber bundles and metal electrodes. Optical fiber bundles were used as a brain-insertable endoscope for image transfer and stimulating light delivery. Light-induced activity from ChR2-expressing neurons was detected with electrodes bundled to the endoscope, enabling verification of light-evoked action potentials. Photostimulation through optical fiber bundles of transgenic mice expressing ChR2 in layer 5 cortical neurons resulted in single-whisker movement, indicating spatially restricted activation of neurons in vivo. The probe system described here and a combination of various photoactive molecules will facilitate studies on the causal link between specific neural activity patterns and behavior.