Molecular, genetic and viral techniques to label specific neural circuits
To identify and label specific populations of neurons relevant for specific sensory or behavioral processes, we can generate knock-in mouse lines that express markers in selected populations of neurons (e.g. Sakurai et al., Cell Reports, 2013).
We use monosynaptic rabies virus together with genetically engineered mice to perform transsynaptic tracing of presynaptic circuits (e.g. Takatoh et al, Neuron 2013; Stanek et al, eLife, 2014; Zhang et al., J. Clin. Invest, 2015).
We also recently developed a new technology that allows us to express any transgenes in recently activated neurons that induced the immediate early gene Fos (see the image as an example).
In vivo calcium imaging in free moving animals
We use the Inscopix integrated miniature scope system to perform in vivo calcium imaging in free behaving/interacting mice. See the image of a mouse with the mini-scope mounted on its head and a movie of imaged calcium activities in neurons.
In vivo extracellular multi-electrode recording in awake behaving animals
We have several multi-channel recording systems in the lab. We perform in vivo extracellular multi-electrode recording of neural activities in awake behaving animals. See below images of a recording session when the mouse is performing a texture discrimination task.
We use slice electrophysiology to examine synaptic activities, as well as the intrinsic electric properties of labeled neurons. See images of the rig and an example of recording result.
Optogenetic and chemogenetic manipulations
Our lab employs modern optogenetic and chemogenetic tools to manipulate the activities of identified/labeled neurons to examine the consequences on sensory perception and motor actions. See below an image for such an experiment.