Stay tuned ! Look at our most recent publications and technological advances in neuroscience/neuroimaging.

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Functional UltraSound (fUS) is an innovative technology for imaging brain activity at high spatiotemporal resolution (80 um, 20 ms).

fUS is sensitive enough to detect blood flow in very small vessels in the entire depth of the brain and without the need for contrast agents.

Please contact us if you want to evaluate all advantages of fUS technology for your research projects. Email:

For more informations, see the corresponding Menu at the top of this page.


Brain Imaging includes different methods that fall into two broad categories: structural and functional imaging. Structural imaging investigates the structure of the brain and can be used for the diagnosis of large-scale intracranial diseases such as tumors, and injuries.

Functional imaging reveals the activity in certain brain regions by detecting changes in metabolism, blood flow, regional chemical composition and/or absorption. The major challenge in the years ahead will be to combine both real-time and non-invasive brain imaging.

Brain imaging technologies are crucial for understanding the relationships between specific areas of the brain and their function, helping to locate the areas of the brain that are affected by diseases or neurological disorders and build new strategies to treat them. 


Rapidly apply insights gained from model organisms to human health 

To better understand the normal brain, we are studying pathologies including stroke, psychiatric diseases, pain and epilepsy serving as models of brain circuit dysfunction. Our team seeks to accelerate the development of the breakthrough technologies to build versatile and costless tools to image brain activity and brain networks at both micro and macro-scales.

To address the challenges presented by neuroimaging, we develop a broad, interdisciplinary and translational science based on our own expertise and fruitfull collaborations with scientists, industries and citizens from all around the world.

These pages also aim at providing basic information on optogenetics, in vivo brain imaging and recording of electrical activity. Please use the top menu to navigate through the pages.

Our main research interests are summarized below:


If you require any further information, please feel free to contact meThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Note that this website is under construction (some menu links are not yet available) and will be updated soon.



RT @BoninLab: imec releases #Neuropixels probes! An inspiring example on how concerted technology development can accelerate brain science.…
So proud of our team, Dr. Micheline Grillet, selected for the brain art challenge with her artwork « Are these vasc…
Excellent talk from JP Changeux in Liège. La beauté dans le cerveau: pour une neuroscience de l’art. @__NERF
Interesting debate on gender equality in science and in life/work balance at the Horta Cafe in Antwerp with…
Disruptive ideas and work from Dr. P. Blinder lab in Tel-Aviv University on coupling between neuronal activity and…
NERF-Cell Symposium in Leuven (Belgium): 2 exciting days mixing science & technology for the neuroscientists by neu…
Early brain reorganization of brain circuits after stroke revealed by functional UltraSound imaging (fUSi). Our new…
Clara Dussaux gives an excellent seminar on her recent work in Laurent Bourdieu’s lab at IBENS-ENS in Paris. Impres…
Follow Alan URBAN on Twitter



JCBFM - Functional UltraSound in a stroke model

JCBFM - Functional UltraSound in a stroke model

Functional ultrasound imaging efficiently mapped the acute changes in relative cerebral blood volume during occlusion and following reperfusion with high spatial resolution (100 mm), notably documenting marked focal decreases during occlusion, and was able to chart the fine dynamics of tissue reperfusion in the individual rat.

Read more →
Nature Methods - Functional UltraSound in freely moving rodents

Nature Methods - Functional UltraSound in freely moving rodents

Freely moving functional ultrasound (fm-fUS) imaging to image brain circuits in behaving rodents. fm-fUS can also efficiently decode brain activity in cortical and subcortical area during specific tasks.

Read more →
NeuroImage - Functional UltraSound in chronic conditions

NeuroImage - Functional UltraSound in chronic conditions

To overcome the limitation of the craniotomy, we developed a dedicated thinned skull surgery for chronic functional ultrasound imaging.

Read more →
JMTM - Functional UltraSound in humans

JMTM - Functional UltraSound in humans

Here we demonstrate how functional ultrasound can image brain capillaries in rodents and to visualize the cortical microvasculature in the human brain during neurosurgery.

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Molecular Psychiatry - Interneurons Classification

Molecular Psychiatry - Interneurons Classification

In collaboration with the Allen Brain Institute, our study demonstrate that a specific class of parvalbumin expressing interneurons may be involved in brain plasticity.

Read more →

A multidisciplinary team

Our team combines a set of unique expertise including neurobiology, brain imaging, physics/acoustics, computer-science, molecular biology, pharmacology and more for understanding brain function.

Open Source Technologies

We make all technologies freely available for the scientific community. As soon as results are published, we release all protocols, codes and hardware to allow everyone to use technologies from our lab.

Translational Research

Translational research helps turn early-stage innovations into new health products, advancing the innovation to the point where it becomes attractive for further development by the medical industry or healthcare agencies. See our last patents.


Our research is focused on research and development of innovative technologies to better understand neural circuits and brain physiology.

We are currently working on 2 breakthrough imaging modalities that have been designed to become a centerpiece in both preclinical and clinical studies as it can be used to diagnose metabolic diseases and lesions on a finer scale, for neurological and cognitive psychological research as well as brain-computer interfaces.    

  • Functional ultrasound imaging (fUSi) = Imaging of brain hemodynamic activity at mesoscopic scale in the entire depth of the brain 

Structural images of brain vasculature and blood flow

Functional ultrasound (fUS) is a novel imaging modality able to measure cerebral blood volume (CBV), red blood cells velocity (RBC-V) and cerebral blood flow (CBF) that are key parameters to quantify hemodynamic variations observed during functional activation of the brain.

 Brain activity in real-time during somatosensory stimuli

Alternate right/left forepaw/whiskers stimulations

(the movie is accelerated 4 times)

  • Voltage Sensitive Dye imaging (VSDi) = Imaging of brain electrical activity locally at the surface of the brain

 Optical imaging of neurons depolarizations at the ms time-scale

Cortical Spreading Depression

(the movie is accelerated 60 times)

Also known as potentiometric dyes, VSD are dyes which change their spectral properties in response to voltage changes. They are able to provide linear measurements of firing activity of single neurons, large neuronal populations or cardiomyocytes. Many others physiological processes are accompanied by changes in cell membrane potential which can be detected with VSD. Measurements may indicate the site of action potential origin, and measurements of action potential velocity and direction may be obtained.


1ère journée scientifiques du DHU-Neurovasc

20 mars 2015 - Paris - Espace Scipion


Real-time imaging of brain activity in freely moving rats using functional ultrasound

Alan Urban1,2,5, Clara Dussaux1,2,5, Guillaume Martel1, Clément Brunner1–3, Emilie Mace4 & Gabriel Montaldo1,2

1UMRS 894 INSERM Centre de Psychiatrie et Neurosciences, Faculté de Médecine, Université Paris Descartes, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Paris, France. 2Optogenetics and Brain Imaging, Stroke Research Team, Paris, France. 3Sanofi Research and Development, Lead Generation to Candidate Realization, Chilly-Mazarin, France. 4Neural Circuit Laboratories, Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland. 5These authors contributed equally to this work.


Innovative imaging methods help to investigate the complex relationship between brain activity and behavior in freely moving animals. Functional ultrasound (fUS) is an imaging modality suitable for recording cerebral blood volume (CBV) dynamics in the whole brain but has so far been used only in head-fixed and anesthetized rodents. We designed a fUS device for tethered brain imaging in freely moving rats based on a miniaturized ultrasound probe and a custom-made ultrasound scanner. We monitored CBV changes in rats during various behavioral states such as quiet rest, after whisker or visual stimulations, and in a food-reinforced operant task. We show that fUS imaging in freely moving rats could efficiently decode brain activity in real time.



Functional Ultrasound (fUS) imaging of brain hemodynamics in a rat middle-cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo) model of selective neuronal loss (SNL) mimicking transient ischemic attack (TIA)

Clément BRUNNER1,*, Clothilde ISABEL1,*, Abraham MARTIN2, Clara DUSSAUX1, Anne SAVOYE1, Gabriel MONTALDO1, Jean-Claude BARON1,+ and Alan URBAN1,+
* co-first
+ co-last

1 Centre de Psychiatrie et Neurosciences, INSERM U894, Hôpital Sainte-Anne, Optogenetics and Brain Imaging, Stroke Research Team, Paris, 75014, France.

2 Molecular Imaging Unit, CICbiomaGUNE, Paseo Miramon 182, San Sebastian, Spain.


Following middle cerebral artery occlusion, tissue outcome ranges from normal to infarcted depending on depth and duration of hypoperfusion as well as occurrence and efficiency of reperfusion. However, the precise time course of these changes in relation to tissue and behavioral outcome remains unsettled. To address these issues, a three-dimensional wide field-of-view and real-time quantitative functional imaging technique able to map perfusion in the rodent brain would be desirable. Here, we applied functional ultrasound imaging, a novel approach to map relative cerebral blood volume without contrast agent, in a rat model of brief proximal transient middle cerebral artery occlusion to assess perfusion in penetrating arterioles and venules acutely and over six days thanks to a thinned-skull preparation. Functional ultrasound imaging efficiently mapped the acute changes in relative cerebral blood volume during occlusion and following reperfusion with high spatial resolution (100 mm), notably documenting marked focal decreases during occlusion, and was able to chart the fine dynamics of tissue reperfusion (rate: one frame/5 s) in the individual rat. No behavioral and only mild post-mortem immunofluorescence changes were observed. Our study suggests functional ultrasound is a particularly well-adapted imaging technique to study cerebral perfusion in acute experimental stroke longitudinally from the hyper-acute up to the chronic stage in the same subject.


Cerebral blood volume, functional