Efforts to scale neuroimaging towards the direct visualization of mammalian brain-wide neuronal activity have faced major challenges. Although high-resolution optical imaging of the whole brain in small animals has been achieved ex vivo, the real-time and direct monitoring of large-scale neuronal activity remains difficult, owing to the performance gap between localized, largely invasive, optical microscopy of rapid, cellular-resolved neuronal activity and whole-brain macroscopy of slow haemodynamics and metabolism. Here, we demonstrate both ex vivo and non-invasive in vivo functional optoacoustic (OA) neuroimaging of mice expressing the genetically encoded calcium indicator GCaMP6f. The approach offers rapid, high-resolution three-dimensional snapshots of whole-brain neuronal activity maps using single OA excitations, and of stimulus-evoked slow haemodynamics and fast calcium activity in the presence of strong haemoglobin background absorption. By providing direct neuroimaging at depths and spatiotemporal resolutions superior to optical fluorescence imaging, functional OA neuroimaging bridges the gap between functional microscopy and whole-brain macroscopy.

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