Heuristically optimal path scanning for high-speed multiphoton circuit imaging

Alexander J. Sadovsky, Peter B. Kruskal, Joseph M. Kimmel, Jared Ostmeyer, Florian B. Neubauer, Jason N. MacLean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Population dynamics of patterned neuronal firing are fundamental to information processing in the brain. Multiphoton microscopy in combination with calcium indicator dyes allows circuit dynamics to be imaged with single-neuron resolution. However, the temporal resolution of fluorescent measures is constrained by the imaging frequency imposed by standard raster scanning techniques. As a result, traditional raster scans limit the ability to detect the relative timing of action potentials in the imaged neuronal population. To maximize the speed of fluorescence measures from large populations of neurons using a standard multiphoton laser scanning microscope (MPLSM) setup, we have developed heuristically optimal path scanning (HOPS). HOPS optimizes the laser travel path length, and thus the temporal resolution of neuronal fluorescent measures, using standard galvanometer scan mirrors. Minimizing the scan path alone is insufficient for prolonged high-speed imaging of neuronal populations. Path stability and the signal-to-noise ratio become increasingly important factors as scan rates increase. HOPS addresses this by characterizing the scan mirror galvanometers to achieve prolonged path stability. In addition, the neuronal dwell time is optimized to sharpen the detection of action potentials while maximizing scan rate. The combination of shortest path calculation and minimization of mirror positioning time allows us to optically monitor a population of neurons in a field of view at high rates with single-spike resolution, ~125 Hz for 50 neurons and ~8.5 Hz for 1,000 neurons. Our approach introduces an accessible method for rapid imaging of large neuronal populations using traditional MPLSMs, facilitating new insights into neuronal circuit dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1591-1598
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Calcium imaging
  • Multiphoton microscopy
  • Neuronal dynamics
  • Software

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology


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