New Microscope Sees Large Groups of Neurons in Living Brains

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Editors Genetics, Neurology, Pathology

Most current methods of looking at the activity of the brains of living animals are very limited in their field of view and/or frame rate. This makes it difficult to understand the complex activity taking place inside the brain that involves more than one small region of the organ.

This is all rapidly changing as Boston University scientists are now reporting on a new microscope that can provide live video imaging of the activity of brain tissue over a diameter larger than a millimeter. This is quite large by today’s standards and can provide a complete overview of the neurons firing over the entire brain of some of the small insects, for example. In larger animals, relatively large parts of the brain can now be studied in a comprehensive way.

The technology is called Multi-Z confocal microscopy. “We found a way to merge the needed imaging features in a microscopy system that is easy to build and operate,” said Amaury Badon, first author of the paper, in a press release from The Optical Society. “It also provides results in real time without the need for complicated data analysis or image processing.”

From the study abstract in Optica:

Fast, volumetric imaging over large scales has been a long-standing challenge in biological microscopy. To address this challenge, we report an augmented variant of confocal microscopy that uses a series of reflecting pinholes axially distributed in the detection space, such that each pinhole probes a different depth within the sample. We thus obtain simultaneous multiplane imaging without the need for axial scanning. Our microscope technique is versatile and configured here to provide two-color fluorescence imaging with a field of view larger than a millimeter at video rate. Its general applicability is demonstrated with neuronal imaging of both Caenorhabditis elegans and mouse brains in vivo.

Study in Optica: Video-rate large-scale imaging with Multi-Z confocal microscopy

Via: The Optical Society

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