High-resolution confocal imaging deep inside living mouse brains using head-mounted GRIN-lenses

Tuesday, April 20 | 2:00 pm EDT

Dr. Nicolai T. Urban of the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience will share his experience and workflows using state-of-the-art ZEISS imaging technology. The webinar takes place at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Advanced registration is required.


The ability to closely link real-time behavior in animals to neural activity on the cellular level allows for new insights into the cause-and-effect of brain functionality. Miniaturization and innovative design have enabled the creation of microscopes which are small enough to be head-mounted on freely moving animals. These ‘miniscopes’ use GRIN-lenses as optical relays to monitor functional calcium signaling of individual neurons even in deeper regions of the brain. The trade-offs of this impressive miniaturization, however, require sacrifices in image quality, optical sectioning, and the use of multiple fluorescent colors (among others).

Fortunately, most of the information that could be gleaned from more advanced imaging techniques does not need to be recorded during behavior – only the functional data does. By exchanging the miniscope for a more powerful laser scanning confocal microscope, we can supplement the previously recorded data with high-resolution volumetric images of the entire observed brain region. By adding fluorescent labels and optical sectioning capabilities, we can correlate the cells active during behavior with specific subsets of neurons using targeted viral and genetic approaches. In combination with ZEISS Airyscan 2 detection, we are able to leverage the high resolution and enhanced sensitivity to identify and resolve morphological details of active neurons, from cell bodies down to individual neuronal processes such as dendritic spines and axonal boutons. Post-collection co-registration of miniscope-acquired functional data and ZEISS multi-color high-resolution images results in a richer dataset with wider applications.

This webinar will explore the basics of this hybrid imaging approach, explain the workflows involved in recording head-fixed data using a ZEISS LSM 980 confocal microscope, and show multispectral volumetric and functional data recorded using this method.