Understanding neural computation requires methods such as 3D acousto-optical (AO) scanning that can simultaneously read out neural activity on both the somatic and dendritic scales. AO point scanning can increase measurement speed and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) by several orders of magnitude, but high optical resolution requires long point-to-point switching time, which limits imaging capability. Here we present a novel technology, 3D DRIFT AO scanning, which can extend each scanning point to small 3D lines, surfaces, or volume elements for flexible and fast imaging of complex structures simultaneously in multiple locations. Our method was demonstrated by fast 3D recording of over 150 dendritic spines with 3D lines, over 100 somata with squares and cubes, or multiple spiny dendritic segments with surface and volume elements, including in behaving animals. Finally, a 4-fold improvement in total excitation efficiency resulted in about 500 × 500 × 650 μm scanning volume with genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs).
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