Hippocampus is essential for spatial navigation and episodic memory: it is often used as a model for investigating cellular mechanisms underlying learning and recall.

While two-photon imaging is beneficial for studying these complex cognitive functions, combining it with complex behavioral tasks is challenging. Until recently, virtual reality (VR) systems offered the only solution for integrating microscopic imaging with complex behavior under head-fixation conditions. Unfortunately, virtual reality relies almost exclusively on vision and does not integrate tactile feedback, which is more behaviorally relevant for mice, especially in the context of spatial navigation.

In this webinar, Prof. Simon Schultz (Imperial College London, UK) and Prof. Michael Goard (UC Santa Barbara, USA) present an alternative approach. Their studies of neuronal circuits across major hippocampal regions rely on using two-photon microscopy in awake head-fixed mice navigating the tangible real-world environment of an air-lifted cage or maze.

Key Topics Include:

  • Studying spatial navigation and memory under head-fixation conditions
  • Two-photon calcium imaging in the hippocampus of awake behaving mice
  • Assessing spatial activity in hippocampal neurons using an air-lifted cage
  • Place cells mapping in a virtual reality system vs. in a real-world environment of an air-lifted cage
  • Tracking spine morphology across multiple sessions using 2-photon structural imaging
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Professor of Neurotechnology
Department of Bioengineering
Imperial College London

Dr. Simon R. Schultz is a Professor of Neurotechnology at Imperial College London, a Director at the Imperial Centre of Excellence in Neurotechnology, and a Head of the Laboratory of Neural Coding and Neurodegenerative Disease at Imperial College London. Prof. Schultz is widely recognized for developing quantitative, information-theoretic algorithms for the analysis of large neurophysiological datasets, with key highly cited papers on the roles of spike timing and correlations in sensory coding. Research in his group focuses on studying sensory and cognitive neural codes and how they relate to cortical circuit function and dysfunction. A current focus in the lab is on using optical techniques to probe neural circuit function, with a major project underway on using these techniques to study memory disorders.

Assistant Professor
Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology Department
UC Santa Barbara

Dr. Michael Goard received his B.A. in Psychology from Reed College and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of California, Berkeley. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he developed approaches for imaging and manipulating the activity of large populations of neurons in behaving mice. The overarching goal of Dr. Goard's current research at the University of California at Santa Barbara is to understand the cortical circuits underlying visual processing, decision-making and navigation. To this end, the lab employs large-scale two-photon calcium imaging, multi-unit electrophysiology, and optogenetic manipulation of neural activity in behaving mice.

Production Partner


Neurotar develops instrumentation for microscopic imaging and electrophysiological recordings in the brain of awake head-fixed mice. Its proprietary Mobile HomeCage® allows integrating high-precision tests with behavior, starting from simple locomotion tracking to maze navigation.

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