How can we identify the group of neurons that encode a particular thought?
I don’t want to simply see correlations of in activity of a few scattered neurons with a given thought, but identify the entire neuronal ensemble. Which neurons are active at a precise moment in a task? How are they wired together? Which are the drivers of activity?
Existing technology is inadequate to identify the entire neural ensemble that encodes a thought. Immediate early gene expression patterns have not been shown to be precisely correlated with brain activity, and have a temporal resolution on the order of minutes. Genetically encoded calcium sensors (GECIs) have the necessary temporal and spatial resolution, but their response is nearly as fleeting as a thought, making it impossible to simultaneously record from networks of thousands of possible participants with current microscopy techniques.
Photoswitchable, genetically-encoded calcium memory sensorscan identify all the neurons in a large network that are active during user-specified, aribitrarly brief or long time periods. I will propose four potential strategies for construction of these sensors, and detail practical considerations for sensor design, screening and application.
To be updated very very soon!