Despite the overwhelming need, there has been a relatively large gap in our ability to trace network level activity across the brain. The complex dense wiring of the brain makes it extremely challenging to understand cell-type specific activity and their communication beyond a few synapses. Recent development of the optogenetic functional magnetic resonance imaging (ofMRI) provides a new impetus for the study of brain circuits by enabling causal tracing of activities arising from defined cell types and firing patterns across the whole brain. Brain circuit elements can be selectively triggered based on their genetic identity, cell body location, and/or their axonal projection target with temporal precision while the resulting network response is monitored non-invasively with unprecedented spatial and temporal accuracy. With further studies including technological innovations to bring ofMRI to its full potential, ofMRI is expected to play an important role in our system-level understanding of the brain circuit mechanism.
Keywords: optogenetics, BOLD, ofMRI, opto-fMRI, connectomics
Citation: Lee JH (2011) Tracing activity across the whole brain neural network with optogenetic functional magnetic resonance imaging. Front. Neuroinform. 5:21. doi: 10.3389/fninf.2011.00021
Received: 19 March 2011;
Accepted: 13 September 2011;
Published online: 25 October 2011.
Edited by:Claus Hilgetag, Jacobs University Bremen, Germany
Reviewed by:Kathleen S. Rockland, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
Copyright: © 2011 Lee. This is an open-access article subject to a non-exclusive license between the authors and Frontiers Media SA, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and other Frontiers conditions are complied with.
*Correspondence: Jin Hyung Lee, Departments of Electrical Engineering, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Radiology, Neuroscience, Biomedical Engineering Interdepartmental Program, University of California Los Angeles, 420 Westwood Plaza, #68-121, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org