Protocols in Current Issue
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0 Q&A 2852 Views Nov 20, 2021

Visual impairments, notably loss of contrast sensitivity and color vision, were documented in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients yet are critically understudied. This protocol describes a novel visual-stimuli four-arm maze (ViS4M; also called visual x-maze), which is a versatile x-shaped maze equipped with spectrum- and intensity-controlled light-emitting diode (LED) sources and dynamic grayscale objects. The ViS4M is designed to allow the assessment of color and contrast vision along with locomotor and cognitive functions in mice. In the color testing mode, the spectral distributions of the LED lights create four homogenous spaces that differ in chromaticity and luminance, corresponding to the mouse visual system. In the contrast sensitivity test, the four grayscale objects are placed in the middle of each arm, contrasting against the black walls and the white floors of the maze. Upon entering the maze, healthy wild-type (WT) mice tend to spontaneously alternate between arms, even under equiluminant conditions of illumination, suggesting that cognitively and visually intact mice use both color and brightness as cues to navigate the maze. Evaluation of the double-transgenic APPSWE/PS1ΔE9 mouse model of AD (AD+ mice) reveals substantial deficits to alternate in both color and contrast modes at an early age, when hippocampal-based memory and learning is still intact. Profiling of timespan, entries, and transition patterns between the different arms uncovers variable aging and AD-associated impairments in color discrimination and contrast sensitivity. The analysis of arm sequences of alternation reveals different pathways of exploration in young WT, old WT, and AD+ mice, which can be used as color and contrast imprints of functionally intact versus impaired mice. Overall, we describe the utility of a novel visual x-maze test to identify behavioral changes in mice related to cognition, as well as color and contrast vision, with high precision and reproducibility.

Graphic abstract:

Exploratory behavior of AD+ mice versus age- and sex-matched WT mice is tracked (top left: trajectory from a 5-min video file) in a novel visual-stimuli four-arm maze (ViS4M; also named visual x-maze) equipped with spectrum- and intensity-controlled LED sources or grayscale objects. Consecutive arm entries reveal that APPSWE/PS1ΔE9 (AD+) mice alternate less between arms, as opposed to WT mice. Sequence analysis, according to the three alternation pathways (depicted by white, yellow, and brown arrows) under different conditions of illumination, uncovers specific deficits linked to color vision in AD+ mice, evidenced by a color imprint chart.

0 Q&A 2403 Views Jan 20, 2021

Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) can be used to measure in vivo concentrations of neurometabolites. This information can be used to identify neurotransmitter involvement in healthy (e.g., perceptual and cognitive processes) and unhealthy brain function (e.g., neurological and psychiatric illnesses). The standard approach for analyzing MRS data is to combine spectral transients acquired over a ~10 min scan to yield a single estimate that reflects the average metabolite concentration during that period. The temporal resolution of metabolite measurements is sacrificed in this manner to achieve a sufficient signal-to-noise ratio to produce a reliable estimate. Here we introduce two analyses that can be used to increase the temporal resolution of neurometabolite estimates produced from MRS measurements. The first analysis uses a sliding window approach to create a smoothed trace of neurometabolite concentration for each MRS scan. The second analysis combines transients across participants, rather than time, producing a single “group trace” with the highest possible temporal resolution achievable with the data. These analyses advance MRS beyond the current “static” application by allowing researchers to measure dynamic changes in neurometabolite concentration and expanding the types of questions that the technique can be used to address.

0 Q&A 2434 Views Jun 5, 2020
In the mammalian visual system, early stages of visual form perception begin with orientation selective neurons in primary visual cortex (V1). In many species (including humans, monkeys, tree shrews, cats, and ferrets), these neurons are organized in pinwheel-like orientation columns. To study the functional organization within orientation pinwheels, it is important to target pinwheel subdomains precisely. We therefore developed a technique to provide a quantitative determination of the location of pinwheel centers (PCs). Previous studies relied solely on blood vessel images of the cortical surface to guide electrode penetrations to PCs in orientation maps. However, considerable spatial error remained using this method. In the present study, we improved the accuracy of targeting PCs by ensuring perpendicularity of electrodes and by utilizing the orientation tuning of local field potentials (LFP) recorded at or near the optically determined positions.
0 Q&A 5532 Views Jul 20, 2019
Rhodopsin is a G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) that mediates vision under dim light. Upon light exposure, rhodopsin is phosphorylated at multiple serine and threonine sites at its carboxyl-terminus by rhodopsin kinase (GRK1). This, in turn, reduces its ability to activate the visual G-protein transducin. Binding of light-activated, phosphorylated rhodopsin by arrestin (ARR1) fully terminates the catalytic activity of rhodopsin. Quantification of the levels of the differentially phosphorylated rhodopsin species provides definitive information about the role of phosphorylated rhodopsin in visual functions. Isoelectric Focusing (IEF) is a technique which is used to separate ampholytic components, such as proteins, based on their isoelectric point (pI). It is a useful technique used to distinguish protein isoforms and post-translational modifications such as phosphorylation, glycosylation, deamination, and acetylation, due to their effects on the protein’s pI. Isoelectric Focusing can provide high resolution of differentially phosphorylated forms of a protein. Though other techniques such as kinase activity assays, phospho-specific antibodies, western blot, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), radiolabeling and mass spectrometry are used to detect and quantify protein phosphorylation, IEF is a simple and cost-effective method to quantify rhodopsin phosphorylation, as it can readily detect individual phosphorylated forms.

Here we provide a detailed protocol for determining phosphorylated rhodopsin species using the Isoelectric Focusing technique.
0 Q&A 4708 Views Jul 20, 2018
Axons of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) relay visual information from the retina to lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) and superior colliculus (SC), which are two major image-forming visual nuclei. Wiring of these retinal projections completes before vision begins. However, there are few studies on retinal axons at embryonic stage due to technical difficulty. We developed a method of embryonic intravitreous injection of dyes in mice to visualize retinal projections to LGN and SC. This study opens up the possibility of understanding early visual circuit wiring in mice embryos.
0 Q&A 5523 Views Feb 20, 2018
This protocol describes a method for registration of in vivo cortical retinotopic map with cytochrome c oxidase (CO) labeled architectonic maps of the same mouse brain through the alignment of vascular fiducials. By recording surface blood vessel pattern and sequential alignment at each step, this method overcomes the challenge imposed by tissue distortion during perfusion, mounting, sectioning and histology procedures. This method can also be generalized to register and align other types of in vivo functional maps like ocular dominance map and spatial/temporal frequency tuning map with various anatomical maps of mouse cortex.

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