The advent of genetically encoded calcium indicators, along with surgical preparations such as thinned skulls or refractive-index-matched skulls, has enabled mesoscale cortical activity imaging in head-fixed mice. However, neural activity during unrestrained behavior substantially differs from neural activity in head-fixed animals. For whole-cortex imaging in freely behaving mice, we present the ‘mini-mScope’, a widefield, miniaturized, head-mounted fluorescence microscope that is compatible with transparent polymer skull preparations. With a field of view of 8 × 10 mm2 and weighing less than 4 g, the mini-mScope can image most of the mouse dorsal cortex with resolutions ranging from 39 to 56 µm. We used the mini-mScope to record mesoscale calcium activity across the dorsal cortex during sensory-evoked stimuli, open field behaviors, social interactions and transitions from wakefulness to sleep.
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