About this Research Topic
Alterations in neuronal functionality can produce neurological disorders (ND) that may be investigated by in vitro or in vivo methodologies. In vivo investigations performed on animal models of ND provide information about brain activity in pathological and physiological conditions. Although the first in vivo investigations date back over 30 years, the recent development of new technologies and analysis procedures still make in vivo investigations a crucial and irreplaceable step in the research on ND. Optogenetics and two-photon laser scanning microscopy, complemented with other technologies, as electrophysiological recordings and behavioral tests, may cover several aspects of one pathology.
Electrophysiological recordings, obtained by electroencephalography (EEG), electrocorticography (ECoG), or local field potentials (LFP), continuously monitor electrical brain activity in sleepy or awake animals. Analysis of the waveforms can increase knowledge about brain functionality in physiological states or in pathological conditions, providing suitable biomarkers to detect a disorder or to follow its progression. In vivo electrophysiological recordings can also be performed on human patients. High-density or intracranial EEG carried out to detect and characterize a disease and its progression, or to evaluate a surgical intervention, can be used to identify new biomarkers or validate those previously found on animal models.
Optogenetics is a neurostimulation-technique that uses low-intensity light with different waveforms to produce or modulate electrophysiological responses in genetically modified neurons. Although the applications of optogenetics in the human brain still face potential risks, there is in vivo animal research promising revolutionary applications in neurological therapeutics. However, there is a counterpart in recent development called “opto-nongenetics”, in which neurostimulation with visible light of high-intensity produces inhibition of neuronal firing. Interestingly, this last technique could also allow the use of visible light for therapeutic purposes in pathologies related to neuronal hyper-excitability.
Two-photon laser scanning microscopy is used for deep tissue imaging in living animals. For instance, the emergence and disappearance of dendritic spines in adult mice and the dynamic changes in dendrites and axons in developing mice can be observed. On the other hand, functional imaging using fluorescent calcium indicators is also possible. Intravital two-photon microscopy should also boost our knowledge of the brain circuit formation and circuit changes in ND.
The behavioral animal models for the study of ND are useful to induce a pathology mainly after the manipulation of specific conditions. Albeit an animal model does not cover all the symptoms of one pathology (validity criteria), their use is a powerful approach to study the neurobiological bases of ND. Further, the inclusion of behavioral animal models in the study of ND offers the advantage of evaluating the possible factors that may contribute to the development of the problem and the potential treatments to solve it in an integral preparation.
This Research Topic will mainly accept articles/reviews covering investigations on ND that use in vivo techniques, including translational (preclinical) and clinical studies. However, in vitro studies strongly related to the in vivo investigation may also be acceptable.
Keywords: Behavior; Electrophysiology, Neurological Disorders, Optogenetics, Two-photon
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