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Nat Methods. 2015 Sep;12(9):873-8. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3482. Epub 2015 Jul 20.

Real-time imaging of brain activity in freely moving rats using functional ultrasound.

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UMRS 894 INSERM Centre de Psychiatrie et Neurosciences, Faculté de Médecine, Université Paris Descartes, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Paris, France.
Optogenetics and Brain Imaging, Stroke Research Team, Paris, France.
Sanofi Research and Development, Lead Generation to Candidate Realization, Chilly-Mazarin, France.
Neural Circuit Laboratories, Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland.


Innovative imaging methods help to investigate the complex relationship between brain activity and behavior in freely moving animals. Functional ultrasound (fUS) is an imaging modality suitable for recording cerebral blood volume (CBV) dynamics in the whole brain but has so far been used only in head-fixed and anesthetized rodents. We designed a fUS device for tethered brain imaging in freely moving rats based on a miniaturized ultrasound probe and a custom-made ultrasound scanner. We monitored CBV changes in rats during various behavioral states such as quiet rest, after whisker or visual stimulations, and in a food-reinforced operant task. We show that fUS imaging in freely moving rats could efficiently decode brain activity in real time.

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