Fiber photometry recordings are commonly used as a proxy for neuronal activity, based on the assumption that increases in bulk calcium fluorescence reflect increases in spiking of the underlying neural population. However, this assumption has not been adequately tested. Here, using endoscopic calcium imaging in the striatum we report that the bulk fluorescence signal correlates weakly with somatic calcium signals, suggesting that this signal does not reflect spiking activity, but may instead reflect subthreshold changes in neuropil calcium. Consistent with this suggestion, the bulk fluorescence photometry signal correlated strongly with neuropil calcium signals extracted from these same endoscopic recordings. We further confirmed that photometry did not reflect striatal spiking activity with simultaneous in vivo extracellular electrophysiology and fiber photometry recordings in awake behaving mice. We conclude that the fiber photometry signal should not be considered a proxy for spiking activity in neural populations in the striatum.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience