Archive for September, 2009

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Fantastic Voyage here we come — Nanoscale imaging of the living brain.

September 9, 2009

Once again neuroscientists and physicists have teamed up to take brain imaging to a new level — Supraresolution imaging.  This has the making of a great SciFi movie — A team of researchers at Harvard University, led by Dr Bernardo Sabatini, combine laser imaging techniques, two-photon laser scanning microscopy (2PLSM) and continuous wave stimulated emission depletion (STED), to go where no human has gone before, peering deep into living brain slices to see nanoscale features of functioning neurons.neuron_63_4

Ok, so they did not use the lasers to shrink themselves like Fantastic Voyage or Honey I Shrank the Kids, but it is still really cool.

Using 2PLSM&STEM imaging Sabatini’s team showed that they can see features as small as 100nm deep in living brain tissue.  This is about 3 times better than just 2PLSM imaging.   How good is supraresolution imaging with STED&2PLSM?  It is the ability to see features of living neurons that are 2000-5000 thinner than a human hair.  Features like the shape of small spines on neuronal dendrites, proteins in a neuron, ion channels at a synapse, and biochemical microdomains in a dendrite. Read the rest of this entry ?