Optical, genetic and computational methods for circuit analysis
We are using transgenic animals that express genetically encoded, fluorescent reporters, which indicate changes in neuronal activity. With the help of two-photon microscopy, we can then watch how neurons in the fish brain process visual stimuli and generate motor commands. Optogenetic perturbation experiments, with Channelrhodopsin, Halorhodopsin and other probes, tell us if a neuronal cell type or a particular region of the brain, is sufficient and/or necessary for a particular behavior. In these experiments, pulses of focused laser light, applied through the skin of the intact animal, can turn on or off individual neurons or small ensembles. This approach allows for the remote optical control of neuronal activity with unprecedented resolution in space and time.