PiVR: An affordable and versatile closed-loop platform to study unrestrained sensorimotor behavior.
ABSTRACT: Tools enabling closed-loop experiments are crucial to delineate causal relationships between the activity of genetically labeled neurons and specific behaviors. We developed the Raspberry Pi Virtual Reality (PiVR) system to conduct closed-loop optogenetic stimulation of neural functions in unrestrained animals. PiVR is an experimental platform that operates at high temporal resolution (70 Hz) with low latencies (<30 milliseconds), while being affordable (
Project description:The ability to respond to chemical stimuli is fundamental to the survival of motile organisms, but the strategies underlying odour tracking remain poorly understood. Here we show that chemotaxis in Drosophila melanogaster larvae is an active sampling process analogous to sniffing in vertebrates. Combining computer-vision algorithms with reconstructed olfactory environments, we establish that larvae orient in odour gradients through a sequential organization of stereotypical behaviours, including runs, stops, lateral head casts and directed turns. Negative gradients, integrated during runs, control the timing of turns. Positive gradients detected through high-amplitude head casts determine the direction of individual turns. By genetically manipulating the peripheral olfactory circuit, we examine how orientation adapts to losses and gains of function in olfactory input. Our findings suggest that larval chemotaxis represents an intermediate navigation strategy between the biased random walks of Escherichia Coli and the stereo-olfaction observed in rats and humans.
Project description:Animals continuously gather sensory cues to move towards favourable environments. Efficient goal-directed navigation requires sensory perception and motor commands to be intertwined in a feedback loop, yet the neural substrate underlying this sensorimotor task in the vertebrate brain remains elusive. Here, we combine virtual-reality behavioural assays, volumetric calcium imaging, optogenetic stimulation and circuit modelling to reveal the neural mechanisms through which a zebrafish performs phototaxis, i.e. actively orients towards a light source. Key to this process is a self-oscillating hindbrain population (HBO) that acts as a pacemaker for ocular saccades and controls the orientation of successive swim-bouts. It further integrates visual stimuli in a state-dependent manner, i.e. its response to visual inputs varies with the motor context, a mechanism that manifests itself in the phase-locked entrainment of the HBO by periodic stimuli. A rate model is developed that reproduces our observations and demonstrates how this sensorimotor processing eventually biases the animal trajectory towards bright regions.Active locomotion requires closed-loop sensorimotor co ordination between perception and action. Here the authors show using behavioural, imaging and modelling approaches that gaze orientation during phototaxis behaviour in larval zebrafish is related to oscillatory dynamics of a neuronal population in the hindbrain.
Project description:Photoreceptors for visual perception, phototaxis or light avoidance are typically clustered in eyes or related structures such as the Bolwig organ of Drosophila larvae. Unexpectedly, we found that the class IV dendritic arborization neurons of Drosophila melanogaster larvae respond to ultraviolet, violet and blue light, and are major mediators of light avoidance, particularly at high intensities. These class IV dendritic arborization neurons, which are present in every body segment, have dendrites tiling the larval body wall nearly completely without redundancy. Dendritic illumination activates class IV dendritic arborization neurons. These novel photoreceptors use phototransduction machinery distinct from other photoreceptors in Drosophila and enable larvae to sense light exposure over their entire bodies and move out of danger.
Project description:Chemotaxis is a powerful paradigm to study how orientation behavior is driven by sensory stimulation. Drosophila larvae navigate odor gradients by controlling the duration of their runs and the direction of their turns. Straight runs and wide-amplitude turns represent two extremes of a behavioral continuum. Here we establish that, on average, runs curl toward the direction of higher odor concentrations. We find that the orientation and strength of the local odor gradient perpendicular to the direction of motion modulates the orientation of individual runs in a gradual manner. We discuss how this error-correction mechanism, called weathervaning, contributes to larval chemotaxis. We use larvae with a genetically modified olfactory system to demonstrate that unilateral function restricted to a single olfactory sensory neuron (OSN) is sufficient to direct weathervaning. Our finding that bilateral sensing is not necessary to control weathervaning highlights the role of temporal sampling. A correlational analysis between sensory inputs and behavioral outputs suggests that weathervaning results from low-amplitude head casts implemented without interruption of the run. In addition, we report the involvement of a sensorimotor memory arising from previous reorientation events. Together, our results indicate that larval chemotaxis combines concurrent orientation strategies that involve complex computations on different timescales.
Project description:Sleep during development is involved in refining brain circuitry, but a role for sleep in the earliest periods of nervous system elaboration, when neurons are first being born, has not been explored. Here we identify a sleep state in Drosophila larvae that coincides with a major wave of neurogenesis. Mechanisms controlling larval sleep are partially distinct from adult sleep: octopamine, the Drosophila analog of mammalian norepinephrine, is the major arousal neuromodulator in larvae, but dopamine is not required. Using real-time behavioral monitoring in a closed-loop sleep deprivation system, we find that sleep loss in larvae impairs cell division of neural progenitors. This work establishes a system uniquely suited for studying sleep during nascent periods, and demonstrates that sleep in early life regulates neural stem cell proliferation.
Project description:During active behaviours like running, swimming, whisking or sniffing, motor actions shape sensory input and sensory percepts guide future motor commands. Ongoing cycles of sensory and motor processing constitute a closed-loop feedback system which is central to motor control and, it has been argued, for perceptual processes. This closed-loop feedback is mediated by brainwide neural circuits but how the presence of feedback signals impacts on the dynamics and function of neurons is not well understood. Here we present a simple theory suggesting that closed-loop feedback between the brain/body/environment can modulate neural gain and, consequently, change endogenous neural fluctuations and responses to sensory input. We support this theory with modeling and data analysis in two vertebrate systems. First, in a model of rodent whisking we show that negative feedback mediated by whisking vibrissa can suppress coherent neural fluctuations and neural responses to sensory input in the barrel cortex. We argue this suppression provides an appealing account of a brain state transition (a marked change in global brain activity) coincident with the onset of whisking in rodents. Moreover, this mechanism suggests a novel signal detection mechanism that selectively accentuates active, rather than passive, whisker touch signals. This mechanism is consistent with a predictive coding strategy that is sensitive to the consequences of motor actions rather than the difference between the predicted and actual sensory input. We further support the theory by re-analysing previously published two-photon data recorded in zebrafish larvae performing closed-loop optomotor behaviour in a virtual swim simulator. We show, as predicted by this theory, that the degree to which each cell contributes in linking sensory and motor signals well explains how much its neural fluctuations are suppressed by closed-loop optomotor behaviour. More generally we argue that our results demonstrate the dependence of neural fluctuations, across the brain, on closed-loop brain/body/environment interactions strongly supporting the idea that brain function cannot be fully understood through open-loop approaches alone.
Project description:Fast object tracking in real time allows convenient tracking of very large numbers of animals and closed-loop experiments that control stimuli for many animals in parallel. We developed MARGO, a MATLAB-based, real-time animal tracking suite for custom behavioral experiments. We demonstrated that MARGO can rapidly and accurately track large numbers of animals in parallel over very long timescales, typically when spatially separated such as in multiwell plates. We incorporated control of peripheral hardware, and implemented a flexible software architecture for defining new experimental routines. These features enable closed-loop delivery of stimuli to many individuals simultaneously. We highlight MARGO's ability to coordinate tracking and hardware control with two custom behavioral assays (measuring phototaxis and optomotor response) and one optogenetic operant conditioning assay. There are currently several open source animal trackers. MARGO's strengths are 1) fast and accurate tracking, 2) high throughput, 3) an accessible interface and data output and 4) real-time closed-loop hardware control for for sensory and optogenetic stimuli, all of which are optimized for large-scale experiments.
Project description:By the onset of morphogenesis, Drosophila embryos consist of about 6000 cells that express distinct gene combinations. Here, we used single-cell sequencing of precisely staged embryos and devised DistMap, a computational mapping strategy to reconstruct the embryo and to predict spatial gene expression approaching single-cell resolution. We produce a virtual embryo with about 8000 expressed genes per cell. Our interactive “Drosophila-Virtual-Expression-eXplorer” (DVEX) database generates three-dimensional virtual in situ hybridizations and computes gene expression gradients. We used DVEX to uncover patterned expression of transcription factors and long noncoding RNAs, as well as signaling pathway components. Spatial regulation of Hippo signaling during early embryogenesis suggests a mechanism for establishing asynchronous cell proliferation. Our approach is suitable to generate transcriptomic blueprints for other complex tissues. Overall design: Single cell transcriptomics of the early Drosophila embryo were generated using Drop-seq
Project description:Navigation requires animals to adjust ongoing movements in response to pertinent features of the environment and select between competing target cues. The neurobiological basis of navigational behavior in vertebrates is hard to analyze, partly because underlying neural circuits are experience dependent. Phototaxis in zebrafish is a hardwired navigational behavior, performed at a stage when larvae swim by using a small repertoire of stereotyped movements. We established conditions to elicit robust phototaxis behavior and found that zebrafish larvae deploy directional orienting maneuvers and regulate forward swimming speed to navigate toward a target light. Using genetic analysis and targeted laser ablations, we show that retinal ON and OFF pathways play distinct roles during phototaxis. The retinal OFF pathway controls turn movements via retinotectal projections and establishes correct orientation by causing larvae to turn away from nontarget areas. In contrast, the retinal ON pathway activates the serotonergic system to trigger rapid forward swimming toward the target. Computational simulation of phototaxis with an OFF-turn, ON-approach algorithm verifies that our model accounts for key features of phototaxis and provides a simple and robust mechanism for behavioral choice between competing targets.
Project description:The regulation of feeding plays a key role in determining the fitness of animals through its impact on nutrition. Elucidating the circuit basis of feeding and related behaviors is an important goal in neuroscience. We recently used a system for closed-loop optogenetic manipulation of neurons contingent on the feeding behavior of Drosophila to dissect the impact of a specific subset of taste neurons on yeast feeding. Here, we describe the development and validation of this system, which we term the optoPAD. We use the optoPAD to induce appetitive and aversive effects on feeding by activating or inhibiting gustatory neurons in closed-loop - effectively creating virtual taste realities. The use of optogenetics allowed us to vary the dynamics and probability of stimulation in single flies and assess the impact on feeding behavior quantitatively and with high throughput. These data demonstrate that the optoPAD is a powerful tool to dissect the circuit basis of feeding behavior, allowing the efficient implementation of sophisticated behavioral paradigms to study the mechanistic basis of animals' adaptation to dynamic environments.