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Methods for one-photon fluorescent imaging of calcium dynamics in vivo are popular due to their ability to simultaneously capture the dynamics of hundreds of neurons across large fields of view, at a low equipment complexity and cost. In contrast to two-photon methods, however, one-photon methods suffer from higher levels of crosstalk between cell bodies and the surrounding neuropil, resulting in decreased signal-to-noise and artifactual correlations of neural activity. Here, we address this problem by engineering cell body-targeted variants of the fluorescent calcium indicator GCaMP6f. We screened fusions of GCaMP6f to both natural as well as engineered peptides, and identified fusions that localized GCaMP6f to within approximately 50 microns of the cell body of neurons in live mice and larval zebrafish. One-photon imaging of soma-targeted GCaMP6f in dense neural circuits reported fewer artifactual spikes from neuropil, increased signal-to-noise ratio, and decreased artifactual correlation across neurons. Thus, soma-targeting of fluorescent calcium indicators increases neuronal signal fidelity and may facilitate even greater usage of simple, powerful, one-photon methods of population imaging of neural calcium dynamics.

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