A method of fast scanning microscopy that allows in vivo imaging of signalling in neuronal and glial cell networks is reported in the January 2007 issue of Nature Methods. This opens the way to studies of the complex cellular networks involved in information processing in the brain.
Processing of information in the brain involves complex patterns of communication between neural cells within large interconnected groups. Recent research has also highlighted the possible importance of brain support cells, or glia, in regulating this process. Technological limitations, however, have previously made the study of these complex interconnected signalling networks difficult.
Fritjof Helmchen and colleagues describe a method of fast three-dimensional scanning fluorescence microscopy that detects signals from cells in the entire scanned volume over a very short period of time. They were able to achieve such fast scanning by vibrating the microscope lens up and down very quickly while scanning the illumination beam back and forth in a defined pattern at the same time. The authors verified the performance of the method by imaging calcium signals in neuronal and glial cell networks in the brain of anaesthetized rats.
Fritjof Helmchen (University of Zurich, Zurich, Germany)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Methods press release.
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