Abstract - Will Smith

The goal of the Cal-BRAIN is to develop technologies for brain-wide imaging. Reaching this goal will rely on model organisms. We propose the development of a unique model organism that will allow the simultaneous recording of neural activity in all cells of a simple chordate nervous system – the tunicate Ciona. Because of their close evolutionary ties, tunicates and vertebrates share a similar physiology and anatomy. Furthermore, the central nervous system in larval Ciona shows a remarkably well-converged structure with vertebrate nervous systems, yet contains only 170 nerve cells. The larvae have several sensory pathways, including photoreception, gravity reception, mechanoreception, and possibly chemoreception. The behavior of the larvae – in particular the modulation of their swimming behavior – in response to various stimuli has been well characterized. Many of the tools needed to achieve a comprehensive imaging of CNS activity in Ciona are in place. This includes a nearly complete connectome derived from serial electron micrograph sections, and the genetic tools to derive expression of reporters in the brain. Our team will include groups with expertise in transgenesis and Ciona imaging (Smith, UCSB), computer vision (Manjunath, UCSB), high-speed image capture and analysis (Liebling, UCSB), connectomics (Ian Meinertzhagen, Dalhousie University), and microfluidics (Bothman, UCSB).

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Principal Investigator Institution Title Abstract
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Hall, Drew University of California, San Diego Magnetic Monitoring of Neural Activity using Magnetoresistive Nanosensors View
Krubitzer, Leah University of California, Davis An integrated system to monitor, image, and regulate neural activity View
Kubby, Joel University of California, Santa Cruz Three-Photon Microscopy with Adaptive Optics for Deep Tissue Brain Activity Imaging View
Melosh, Nicholas Stanford University Parallel Solid State Intracellular Patch-Clamping with Biomimetic Probes View
Park, B. Hyle University of California, Riverside  Label-free 4D optical detection of neural activity View
Portera-Cailliau, Carlos University of California, Los Angeles High-speed interrogation of network activity with frequency domain multiplexing View
Shanechi, Maryam University of Southern California Control-Theoretic Neuroprosthetic Design Using Electrocorticography Signals View
Smith, Will University of California, Santa Barbara Whole brain imaging in a primative chordate View
Wood, Marcelo University of California, Irvine Epigenetic PET tracer for cross-species investigation of age-related memory dysfunction View