Real-time, optogenetic-fMRI

Relevant for Research Area

A - Foundations

C - Applications

The project builds on



Dr. Niels Schwaderlapp

Prof. Carola Haas


Brain stimulation causes not only local effects at the stimulation site, but also influences other brain areas functionally connected within a network. Analyses by electrophysiological recordings are however limited to predefined locations and may overlook brain-wide responses. This project establishes functional MRI to describe the whole-brain response during electrical/optogenetic stimulation in the rodent brain. Responses in brain areas remote from the stimulation site can thereby be identified and controlled for.

Effective brain stimulations target specific areas and avoid unwanted stimulations of other regions. For this, the optimal parameters often have to be adjusted on individual subjects, which may, for example, be caused by slightly different positions of the electrode/fiber. Furthermore, the application in disease models may yield unforeseen stimulation patterns due to altered network connectivities. Adjusting the stimulation parameters is usually time-consuming because of the routine fMRI post-processing. In this project, a platform will be developed which allows the evaluation and presentation of the fMRI response in real-time during the scan. This will significantly accelerate the optimization of the stimulation.

Using fMRI, we have previously analyzed resting-state fMRI connectivities and optogenetically induced seizures in a mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). Typical for this disease, animals showed diverse susceptibilities to the stimulation. The developed real-time fMRI platform will be used to further optimize stimulation strategies that e.g. aim to suppress seizure occurrence.