In order to investigate the relationship between an animal’s behaviour and neuronal network activity we are looking at immediate early gene activation in neurons after animals learned a task or were exposed to a novel situation for example. This way we can correlate the activity of certain brain regions with the performance of an animal. In this experiment, I stained brain sections of rats that had just before executed a task they were well trained on. The staining shows the immediate early gene zif268, which is used to detect activation of neurons, and DAPI, which labels DNA in the nucleus of all cells.
Here are some pictures along the rostral to caudal axis of the hippocampus acquired with a 10x objective on our Leica SP8 confocal microscope. DAPI is shown in blue and zif268 in green. You can see high activity in the hippocampal CA1 region, especially in the sections of the intermediate hippocampus. Surrounding the hippocampus on some sections you can also see the usually high activity of cells in the cortex. The dentate gyrus and the CA3 region show some activity depending on their location along the rostro-caudal axis.