The past 5 years have seen a sharp increase in the number of studies using calcium imaging in behaving rodents. These studies have helped identify important roles for individual cells, brain regions, and circuits in some of the core behavioral phenotypes of psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and autism, and have characterized network dysfunction in well-established models of these disorders. Since rescuing clinically relevant behavioral deficits in disease model mice remains a foundation of preclinical CNS research, these studies have the potential to inform new therapeutic approaches targeting specific cell types or projections, or perhaps most importantly, the network-level context in which neurons function. In this mini-review, we will provide a brief overview of recent insights into psychiatric disease-associated mouse models and behavior paradigms, focusing on those achieved by cellular resolution imaging of calcium dynamics in neural populations. We will then discuss how these experiments can support efforts within the pharmaceutical industry, such as target identification, assay development, and candidate screening and validation. Calcium imaging is uniquely capable of bridging the gap between two of the key resources that currently enable CNS drug discovery: genomic and transcriptomic data from human patients, and translatable, population-resolution measures of brain activity (such as fMRI and EEG). Applying this knowledge could yield real value to patients in the near future.
Copyright © 2020 Seshadri, Hoeppner and Tajinda.