• New Publication in NeuroImage : 3D Neurofunctional Ultrasound Imaging of the rat brain visual system

3D Functional Ultrasound Imaging of the cerebral visual system in rodents

Marc Gesnik+, Kevin Blaize+, Thomas Deffieux, Jean-Luc Gennisson, José-Alain Sahel, Mathias Fink, Serge Picaud*, Mickael Tanter*
Neuroimage (February 2017)

3D functional imaging of the whole brain activity during visual task is a challenging task in rodents due to the complex tri-dimensional shape of involved brain regions and the fine spatial and temporal resolutions required to reveal the visual tract. By coupling functional ultrasound (fUS) imaging with a translational motorized stage and an episodic visual stimulation device, we managed to accurately map and to recover the activity of the visual cortices, the Superior Colliculus (SC) and the Lateral Geniculate Nuclei (LGN) in 3D.


Cerebral Blood Volume (CBV) responses during visual stimuli were found to be highly correlated with the visual stimulus time profile in visual cortices (r = 0.6), SC (r = 0.7) and LGN (r = 0.7). These responses were found dependent on flickering frequency and contrast, and optimal stimulus parameters for largest CBV increases were obtained. In particular, increasing the flickering frequency higher than 7 Hz revealed a decrease of visual cortices response while the SC response was preserved. Finally, cross-correlation between CBV signals exhibited significant delays (d = 0.35 s +/− 0.1 s) between blood volume response in SC and visual cortices in response to our visual stimulus. These results emphasize the interest of fUS imaging as a whole brain neuroimaging modality for brain vision studies in rodent models.

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Result of a single 5-trials 330 seconds fUS imaging session of the visual areas in the rat. A. Coronal schematic view of the rat brain at Bregma −4.5 mm with the delimitations of Visual Cortex (V1/V2), Lateral Geniculate Nucleus (LGN) and Superior Colliculus (SC). B. fUS imaging of the vision-induced activity at Bregma −4.5 mm, with superimposition of the correlated pixels (hot scale) over the brain vasculature (grey scale). The precision of the map allows to retrieve the shape of the 3 vision related structures present in that coronal slice. Scale bar = 2 mm. C. Mean CBV signal over responding pixels in the visual cortices (blue, up), SC (red, middle) and LGN (green, bottom) during that single imaging session composed of 5 flickering screen stimulation trials.