Optical monitoring of brain function in vivo: From neurons to networks

Olga Garaschuk, Ruxandra Iulia Milos, Christine Grienberger, Nima Marandi, Helmuth Adelsberger, Arthur Konnerth

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


The precise understanding of the cellular and molecular basis of brain function requires the direct assessment of the activity of defined cells in vivo. A promising approach for such analyses is two-photon microscopy in combination with appropriate cell labeling techniques. Here, we review the multi-cell bolus loading (MCBL) method that involves the use of membrane-permeant fluorescent indicator dyes. We show that this approach is useful for the functional analysis of clusters of neurons and glial cells in vivo. Work from our and other laboratories shows that the techniques that were previously feasible only in brain slices, like targeted patch clamp recordings from identified cells or pharmacological manipulations in confined brain regions, can now be used also in vivo. We also show that MCBL and two-photon imaging can be easily combined with other labeling techniques, particularly with those involving the use of genetically encoded, green-fluorescent-protein-based indicators. Finally, we examine recent applications of MCBL/two-photon imaging for the analysis of various brain regions, including the somatosensory and the visual cortex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-396
Number of pages12
JournalPflugers Archiv European Journal of Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2006


  • Bolus loading
  • Calcium imaging
  • Functional architecture of neural networks
  • Two-photon microscopy


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