Studying the responses of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) populations has major significance in vision research. Multiphoton imaging of optogenetic probes has recently become the leading approach for visualizing neural populations and has specific advantages for imaging retinal activity during visual stimulation, because it leads to reduced direct photoreceptor excitation. However, multiphoton retinal activity imaging is not straightforward: point-by-point scanning leads to repeated neural excitation while optical access through the rodent eye in vivo has proven highly challenging.
Here, we present two enabling optical designs for multiphoton imaging of responses to visual stimuli in mouse retinas expressing calcium indicators. First, we present an imaging solution based on Scanning Line Temporal Focusing (SLITE) for rapidly imaging neuronal activity in vitro. In this design, we scan a temporally focused line rather than a point, increasing the scan speed and reducing the impact of repeated excitation, while maintaining high optical sectioning. Second, we present the first in vivo demonstration of two-photon imaging of RGC activity in the mouse retina. To obtain these cellular resolution recordings we integrated an illumination path into a correction-free imaging system designed using an optical model of the mouse eye. This system can image at multiple depths using an electronically tunable lens integrated into its optical path.
The new optical designs presented here overcome a number of outstanding obstacles, allowing the study of rapid calcium- and potentially even voltage-indicator signals both in vitro and in vivo, thereby bringing us a step closer toward distributed monitoring of action potentials.