by David Tadres, Matthieu Louis
Tools enabling closed-loop experiments are crucial to delineate causal relationships between the activity of genetically labeled neurons and specific behaviors. We developed the Raspberry Pi Virtual Reality (PiVR) system to conduct closed-loop optogenetic stimulation of neural functions in unrestrained animals. PiVR is an experimental platform that operates at high temporal resolution (70 Hz) with low latencies (Drosophila adult flies perform negative chemotaxis by modulating their locomotor speed to avoid locations associated with optogenetically evoked bitter taste. In Drosophila larvae, we use innate positive chemotaxis to compare behavior elicited by real- and virtual-odor gradients. Finally, we examine how positive phototaxis emerges in zebrafish larvae from the modulation of turning maneuvers to orient in virtual white-light gradients. Besides its application to study chemotaxis and phototaxis, PiVR is a versatile tool designed to bolster efforts to map and to functionally characterize neural circuits.