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SciShots: The 3D network inside a mouse’s brain

Scientists are piecing together the puzzle of the brain using light-sheet microscopy


1 min read

Scientists at the Allen Institute for Neural Dynamics are building a 3D model of the brain by assembling 2D images produced via light-sheet microscopy. Light-sheet microscopy is a high-speed imaging technique that uses a thin “sheet” of light to capture high-resolution 2D images of a fluorescently stained specimen. Unlike traditional microscopes that scan a sample pixel by pixel to form a 2D image over time, light-sheet methods capture millions of pixels all at once to rapidly form 2D images. When these 2D sections are stitched together, they produce a comprehensive 3D model that allows scientists to examine biological structures in greater detail. A vast map of neural connections within a mouse brain is spotlighted above in a microscopy image captured at the University of Washington by Adam Glaser, Ph.D., now a Senior Scientist at the Allen Institute for Neural Dynamics. Understanding this network is key to learning how the brain drives behavior and decision-making. Glaser and his colleagues are working on the development of tools for large-scale imaging projects. They are currently building three customized light-sheet microscopes and plan to use them to identify and describe different neuronal cell types and their connections. — Leila Okahata

Microscopic viewpoints, computer-generated models, intricate tracings and more — see a new side of science with SciShots

About the author: Leila Okahata

Leila Okahata is a former Editorial Intern in the Communications department at the Allen Institute. She is a science writer focusing on life science research and hopes to communicate complex scientific information into deeply compelling stories. She is a Science and Health news reporter for the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s student newspaper. She is currently a fourth-year undergraduate at UCLA majoring in microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics with a minor in professional writing.

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