NEWS | June 1, 2018

Transformative technology: New optical probes allow ultrafast imaging of dopamine activity in the brain


UC Davis neuroscientist Lin Tian and her team, Tommaso Patriarchi, Gerard Broussard and Ruqiang Liang, have developed fluorescence sensors that are opening a new era for the optical recording of dopamine activity in the living brain.

Lin Tian lab team The technology precisely captures where and when dopamine activity occurs in the brain within milliseconds and at the cellular level, producing a high-resolution map of dopamine transients associated with behaviors, such as learning.  

A broad application of this tool will further understanding of dopamine activity underlying motivation, reward and movement, and pave the way to discover effective and novel therapeutics for depression, addiction and drug abuse.

Their work published May 31 as a First Release in the prestigious journal Science (PDF and URL to fast release study.)

For more information about the study, visit UC Davis Health for a Q&A with Tian, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine and senior author on the study.

Tian lab video screenshot

 The video can also be viewed on the UC Davis Health You Tube channel.

Tian’s research was supported by the Brain Initiatitve and the National Institutes of Health. Other members of the team include: Jounhong Ryan Cho, Min Jee Jang, and Viviana Gradinaru from the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering, California Institute of Technology; Katharina Merten, Robert W. Folk and Axel Nimmerjahn from the Waitt Advanced Biophotonics Center at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies; Mark W. Howe and Daniel Dombeck from the Department of Neurobiology, Northwestern University; Aaron Marley and Mark von Zastrow from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, University of California, San Francisco; Wei-Hong Xiong, Haining Zhong and John T. Williams from the Vollum Institute, Oregon Health & Science University.