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Tübingen - Kyoto

German - Japanese Collaboration in Computational Neuroscience

Decoding of in vivo two-photon imaging data in mouse motor cortex
(funded by DFG and JST)

This project aims to understand the computational principle of local neural circuits involved in preparing and executing motor behaviors. To accomplish this aim, we will employ in vivo two-photon calcium imaging together with learning-based decoding.

Purposeful movements are produced more effectively if prepared in advance. This process of motor preparation is considered to be mediated, at least partially, by the motor cortex. This view is supported by the fact that the neurons in the motor cortex modulate discharge rate as animals prepare and execute movements. However, it is not known how the circuits of neurons in the motor cortex operate to convert preparation into action.

In the current project, we will train mice to prepare and execute forearm movements. Then, in these mice, the neural activity of the motor cortex will be investigated using in vivo two-photon calcium imaging. This method will allow us to image the activity of a population of neurons simultaneously.  The imaging data contain large amount of information, and they will be analyzed using machine learning based decoder.

First, the imaging data will be decoded to predict the reaction time and other movement related parameters. Through this process, the decoder identifies the neurons that encode the relevant information by determining the weight factors for the individual neurons. By examining these weight factors at different time-points during the preparatory and execution period, the temporal dynamics of the neural representation during these cognitive processes will be revealed.

Second, we will investigate how the activity states of the circuits change moment by moment until the execution of the forearm movements. To reveal this dynamics of the activity state, the decoder will be trained with the imaging data of a particular frame as the input to predict the activity of a target neuron in the following frame. By determining the weight factors for each neuron, the neurons that contribute in predicting the activity of the target neuron will be identified.

Through these projects, the dynamic change of the neural circuit activity and the animal’s behavior will be linked in a quantitative fashion, which will lead to the better understanding of the computational processes that underlie our actions.


The following scientists take part in this collaboration:

  • Dr. Takashi Sato, University of Tübingen
  • Prof. Yukiyasu Kamitani, Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International in Kyoto, Japan


German Coordinator:

Dr. Takashi Sato

Structure and Function of Neural Circuits
Werner Reichardt-Centrum für integrative
Neurowissenschaften (CIN)
Otfried-Müller-Straße 25
72076 Tübingen

Tel.: +49 (0)7071 29 89133