Two-Photon Scope Captures Millisecond-Timescale Neuron Patterns In Vivo

A new two-photon microscope from scientists at Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus can record footage of brain activity 15 times faster than once believed possible, the team said, revealing voltage changes and neurotransmitter release over large areas and monitoring hundreds of synapses simultaneously.

The new tool, called scanned line angular projection microscopy, or SLAP, makes data collection more efficient by compressing multiple pixels into one measurement and scanning only the pixels in the areas of interest. A device controls which parts of the image are illuminated, and thus which parts are scanned. A high-resolution picture of the sample, captured before the two-photon imaging begins, guides the scope and allows scientists to decompress the data to create detailed videos.

Much like a computed tomography scanner, which builds up an image by scanning a patient from different angles, SLAP sweeps a beam of light across a sample along four different planes. Instead of recording each pixel in the beam’s path as an individual data point, the scope compresses the points in that line together into one number.

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