Technology for simultaneous control and readout of the membrane potential of multiple neurons in behaving animals at high spatio-temporal resolution will have a high impact on neuroscience research. Significant progress in the development of Genetically Encoded Voltage Indicators (GEVIs) now enables to optically record subthreshold and spiking activity from ensembles of cells in behaving animals. In some cases, the GEVIs were also combined with optogenetic actuators to enable ‘all-optical’ control and readout of membrane potential at cellular resolution. Here I describe the recent progress in GEVI development and discuss the various aspects necessary to perform a successful ‘all-optical’ electrophysiology experiment in behaving, head-fixed animals. These aspects include the voltage indicators, the optogenetic actuators, strategies for protein expression, optical hardware, and image processing software. Furthermore, I discuss various applications of the technology, highlighting its advantages over classic electrode-based techniques. I argue that GEVIs now transformed from a ‘promising’ technology to a practical tool that can be used to tackle fundamental questions in neuroscience.
All-optical electrophysiology in behaving animals
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