Chronic calcium imaging in neuronal development and disease

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Neuronal circuits develop, adjust to experience and degenerate in response to injury or disease in the course of weeks and months. Available recording techniques, however, typically sample physiological properties of identified neurons on the time scale of minutes and hours. Thus, in order to obtain a full understanding of a long term physiological process data need to be extrapolated from numerous experimental sessions and animals, often collected blindly and under variable conditions. The generation and ongoing engineering of genetically encoded calcium indicators creates an opportunity to repeatedly record activity from the same individual neurons in vivo over weeks, months and potentially the entire lifetime of a model organism. Chronic calcium imaging with genetically encoded indicators thus may allow to establish functional biographies of identified neuronal cell types in the brain and to reveal the physiological relevance of structural changes as they occur under natural and pathological conditions.

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