Tracking live brain activity with NeuBtracker

3rd October 2017
Posted By : Enaie Azambuja
Tracking live brain activity with NeuBtracker

A team of scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has successfully developed a new type of microscope. The so-called NeuBtracker is an open source microscope that allows to observe neuronal activities of zebrafish without perturbing their behaviour. This is opening up completely new perspectives for science, because now it will be possible to track natural behaviour while simultaneously imaging neuronal activity in the brain.

NeuBtracker is equipped with two cameras: One tracks the unrestrained behaviour of the zebrafish larva while the other automatically remains pointed at the transparent head, and consequently the brain, to record fluorescence images.

“This approach makes it possible to observe neuronal activity during unrestrained behaviour. We can test the larvae in different environmental conditions and can immediately analyse the effects,” says Prof. Dr. Gil Westmeyer from the Institutes of Biological and Medical Imaging (IBMI) and Developmental Genetics (IDG) at the Helmholtz Zentrum München as well as the Department of Nuclear Medicine and Munich School of Bioengineering (MSB) at the Technical University of Munich (TUM).

For example, by adding substances that influence metabolism, it is possible to observe resulting neuronal events in the brain in vivo. “Now we can finally simultaneously observe the effects of physiologically active substances on the behaviour and brain activity,” states Panagiotis Symvoulidis from the TUM and the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the study’s first author.

“The selective expression of fluorescent sensor proteins allows us to detect the activity of particular neurons.” “Consequently we can see exactly which areas in the brain are active during specific behaviours,” adds Dr. Antonella Lauri from Westmeyer’s team.

The new instrument is a so-called open-source microscope. This means that instructions on how to build the microscope are available to everyone on the web (www.neubtracker.org). “We wanted to give our scientific colleagues the possibility to build their own NeuBtracker because we had been waiting for such a device for years,” Westmeyer explains.

“It is finally possible to see the effects of pharmacological substances on the behaviour and the neuronal activity - or other cellular signal processing events - at the same time and across an entire organism. This systemic approach enables us to make new discoveries and we will for example seek to use this device in drug discovery and metabolic research,” Westmeyer adds.

The Helmholtz "Imaging and Curing Environmental Metabolic Diseases" Alliance (ICEMED) and the ERC Starting Grant to Gil Westmeyer supported the interdisciplinary project, in which also the TUM Institute of Neuroscience and the Chair for Computer Aided Medical Procedures & Augmented Reality, as well as the Munich School of Bioengineering (MSB) of TUM participated.


You must be logged in to comment

Write a comment

No comments




Sign up to view our publications

Sign up

Sign up to view our downloads

Sign up

Building IoT products for smart healthcare market
8th February 2018
United Kingdom Cocoon Networks, London
Smart Mobility Executive Forum
12th February 2018
Germany Berlin
Medical Japan 2018
21st February 2018
Japan INTEX Osaka
Mobile World Congress 2018
26th February 2018
Spain Barcelona
embedded world 2018
27th February 2018
Germany Nuremberg