Whole-brain functional ultrasound imaging reveals brain modules for visuomotor integration

Émilie Macé, Gabriel Montaldo, Stuart Trenholm, Cameron Cowan, Alexandra Brignall, Alan Urban, Botond Roska
Neuron 100(5): 241-1251, 2018


  • Functional ultrasound enables imaging whole-brain activity during mouse behavior
  • Activity in 87 brain regions are modulated during the optokinetic reflex
  • Reflex-related regions were identified by perturbing retinal direction selectivity
  • A subset of these regions, all in the thalamus, are independent of eye motion

Large numbers of brain regions are active during behaviors. A high-resolution, brain-wide activity map could identify brain regions involved in specific behaviors. We have developed functional ultrasound imaging to record whole-brain activity in behaving mice at a resolution of ∼100 μm. We detected 87 active brain regions during visual stimulation that evoked the optokinetic reflex, a visuomotor behavior that stabilizes the gaze both horizontally and vertically. Using a genetic mouse model of congenital nystagmus incapable of generating the horizontal reflex, we identified a subset of regions whose activity was reflex dependent. By blocking eye motion in control animals, we further separated regions whose activity depended on the reflex’s motor output. Remarkably, all reflex-dependent but eye motion-independent regions were located in the thalamus. Our work identifies functional modules of brain regions involved in sensorimotor integration and provides an experimental approach to monitor whole-brain activity of mice in normal and disease states.

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