UCL Institute of Ophthalmology


New research identifies negative effects of calcium sensors

6 September 2017

UCL researchers, led by the IoO's Dr Nick Steinmetz, have identified possible negative effects of using genetically encoded calcium sensors to measure neural activity with optical imaging. 

Example map of abnormal events in the brain

Their findings are an important point of caution for researchers using genetically encoded calcium indicators to study neural activity.

Transgenic mice have proved a particularly useful technology in terms of their stability, ease of use, and breadth of expression and are therefore widely used in research. However, this research, which was confirmed across multiple sites, show that some of these mouse lines have major abnormalities in their brain activity, including large, broad events resembling epileptic activity.

The study goes on to define methods for detecting such abnormalities.


  • Example map of abnormal events in the brain