Watching a brain in motion

And science steadily advances. It was only last July that I posted a video showing the activity of all the neurons in a brain. But that animal was stuck in place – not moving freely (though it was in virtual reality).

Jeffrey Nguyen and Andrew Leifer just uploaded their manuscript detailing their work imaging the whole brain of an animal that is freely moving. The animal is just locomoting around like nobody is their boss. That’s important as a lot of evidence points to neural activity being different when an animal is restrained and when it is allowed to move of its own volition. This technical feat is particularly exciting because the animal is C. elegans, which means that we know how all of the neurons are connected (we have the connectome). Here’s a video:

What you are seeing is a wormlike animal bend its nose from right to left (see the green lines moving out from the center mass? Those are processes sent to the sensory receptors at the very tip of the nose of the animal). I assume the animal is moving during this, but the whole image is stabilized.

There is a smoother/faster version hereHere is another videoHere’s a description of the work from Technology Review.


2 thoughts on “Watching a brain in motion

    • I’ve talked with Andy about this and actually motion artifacts end up not being a big deal (partly because of how slow worm neurons are compared to an action potential). He’s actually been tracking individual neurons in freely-moving C. elegans for quite awhile and gotten some pretty good data out of it.

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