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Cell. 2003 Jan 24;112(2):271-82.

Two-photon calcium imaging reveals an odor-evoked map of activity in the fly brain.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, 701 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA.


An understanding of the logic of odor perception requires a functional analysis of odor-evoked patterns of activity in neural assemblies in the brain. We have developed a sensitive imaging system in the Drosophila brain that couples two-photon microscopy with the specific expression of the calcium-sensitive fluorescent protein, G-CaMP. At natural odor concentration, each odor elicits a distinct and sparse spatial pattern of activity in the antennal lobe that is conserved in different flies. Patterns of glomerular activity are similar upon imaging of sensory and projection neurons, suggesting the faithful transmission of sensory input to higher brain centers. Finally, we demonstrate that the response pattern of a given glomerulus is a function of the specificity of a single odorant receptor. The development of this imaging system affords an opportunity to monitor activity in defined neurons throughout the fly brain with high sensitivity and excellent spatial resolution.

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