Recent advances in ultrasound Doppler imaging have facilitated the technique of functional ultrasound (fUS) which enables visualization of brain-activity due to neurovascular coupling. As of yet, this technique has been applied to rodents as well as to human subjects during awake craniotomy surgery and human newborns. Here we demonstrate the first successful fUS studies on awake pigeons subjected to auditory and visual stimulation. To allow successful fUS on pigeons we improved the temporal resolution of fUS up to 20,000 frames per second with real-time visualization and continuous recording. We show that this gain in temporal resolution significantly increases the sensitivity for detecting small fluctuations in cerebral blood flow and volume which may reflect increased local neural activity. Through this increased sensitivity we were able to capture the elaborate 3D neural activity pattern evoked by a complex stimulation pattern, such as a moving light source. By pushing the limits of fUS further, we have reaffirmed the enormous potential of this technique as a new standard in functional brain imaging with the capacity to unravel unknown, stimulus related hemodynamics with excellent spatiotemporal resolution with a wide field of view.

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Keywords 3D pigeon brain, Functional ultrasound imaging in birds, Real time ultrafast Doppler, Visual and auditory stimulation
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Journal NeuroImage
Rau, R. (Richard), Kruizinga, P, Mastik, F, Belau, M. (Markus), de Jong, N, Bosch, J.G, … Maret, G. (2018). 3D functional ultrasound imaging of pigeons. NeuroImage, 183, 469–477. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.08.014