This could be a major step towards a better understanding of the functions of deeply hidden brain compartments, such as the formation of memories, as well as related dysfunctions, including Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers from the Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz-IPHT) in Jena and the University of Edinburgh have succeeded in using a hair-thin fibre endoscope to gain insights into hardly-accessible brain structures. For the first time, scientists are able to achieve high-resolution observations of neuronal structures inside deep brain areas of living mice. The study has been published in the journal “Light: Science & Applications”.
Using a hair-thin optical fibre, the researchers can look into deep brain areas of a living mouse as if through a keyhole. Recently introduced methods for holographic control of light propagation in complex media enable the use of a multimode fibre as an imaging tool.
Based on this new approach, the scientists designed a compact system for fluorescence imaging at the tip of a fibre, the most minimally invasive endoscopic probe reported thus far.
It offers a much smaller footprint as well as enhanced resolution compared to conventional endoscopes based on fibre bundles or graded-index lenses.
“We are very excited to see our technology making its first steps towards practical applications in neuroscience,” says Dr Sergey Turtaev from Leibniz-IPHT, lead author of the paper.
“For the first time, we have shown that it is possible to examine deep brain regions of a living animal model in a minimally invasive way and to achieve high-resolution images at the same time,” adds IPHT scientist Dr Ivo T. Leite.
Sergey and Ivo work in the research group led by IPHT scientist Prof. Tomáš Čižmár, who developed the holographic method for imaging through a single fibre. Using this approach, the research team succeeded in obtaining images of brain cells and neuronal processes in the visual cortex and hippocampus of living mice with resolution approaching one micrometre (i.e. one thousand times smaller than a millimetre).
Detailed observations within these areas are crucial for research into sensory perception, memory formation, and severe neuronal diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Current investigation methods are strongly invasive, such that it is not possible to observe neuronal networks in these inner regions at work without massive destruction of the surrounding tissue – usual endoscopes comprised of hundreds of optical fibres are too large to penetrate such sensitive brain regions, while the neuronal structures are too tiny to be visualised by non-invasive imaging methods such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
“This minimally invasive approach will enable neuroscientists to investigate functions of neurons in deep structures of the brain of behaving animals: without perturbing the neuronal circuits in action, it will be possible to reveal the activity of these neuronal circuits while the animal is exploring an environment or learning a new task,” explains project partner Dr Nathalie Rochefort from the University of Edinburgh.
Building up on this work, the research team now wants to address the current challenges of neuroscience, which will entail the delivery of advanced microscopy techniques through single fibre endoscopes. “Under the “Photonics for Life” flag of the Leibniz-IPHT and in the scope of the European Research Council funded project LIFEGATE, we will strive hard to prepare more significant advancements on this result, essentially funnelling the most advanced methods of modern microscopy deep inside the tissues of living and functioning organisms.” concludes Prof. Tomáš Čižmár.
+49 (0) 3641 · 206-225
+49 (0) 3641 · 206-225
Lavinia Meier-Ewert | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Reinforcement learning expedites 'tuning' of robotic prosthetics
18.01.2019 | North Carolina State University
Powerful microscope captures first image of nanoscaffold that promotes cell movement
14.01.2019 | Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute
The scientific and political community alike stress the importance of German Antarctic research
Joint Press Release from the BMBF and AWI
The Antarctic is a frigid continent south of the Antarctic Circle, where researchers are the only inhabitants. Despite the hostile conditions, here the Alfred...
World first experiments on sensor that may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles
The new sensor - capable of detecting vibrations of living cells - may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles.
Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.
In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...
Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.
It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:
The phenomenon of so-called superlubricity is known, but so far the explanation at the atomic level has been missing: for example, how does extremely low friction occur in bearings? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes IWM and IWS jointly deciphered a universal mechanism of superlubricity for certain diamond-like carbon layers in combination with organic lubricants. Based on this knowledge, it is now possible to formulate design rules for supra lubricating layer-lubricant combinations. The results are presented in an article in Nature Communications, volume 10.
One of the most important prerequisites for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is minimizing friction. Research and industry have been dedicated...
16.01.2019 | Event News
14.01.2019 | Event News
12.12.2018 | Event News
21.01.2019 | Life Sciences
21.01.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
21.01.2019 | Life Sciences