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News - neuroscience, tech and site news
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Two-photon microscopy has revolutionized the ability to image neural activity in the brain of a living animal. Compared to single-photon microscopy, this technique allows for targeted excitation of small volumes in deep tissue. Moreover, the two-photon technique provides tissue penetration up to 800-1000 μm.

As powerful as it is, the imaging depth of a stand-alone two-photon microscope does not allow for deep brain region imaging. One technique used to image deeper is to couple the two-photon microscope with a gradient index (GRIN) lens. Implanted in the tissue, the GRIN lens allows the user to record from deep areas through long working distance objectives.

Even though two-photon GRIN lens-coupled imaging allows for optical sectioning and 3D imaging, this technique has limitations regarding axial scanning speed and contrast. By adding a tunable acoustic GRIN (TAG) lens to their setup, Chien et al. designed a new system allowing in vivo imaging of neurons in deep mouse brain areas with high-contrast and high-temporal resolution. The publication is available on bioRxiv following this link https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.09.19.304675v1.

 

In vivo functional imaging of neuronal activity from SCN of a head-fixed anesthetized mouse - Chien et al. 2020

In vivo functional imaging of neuronal activity from SCN of a head-fixed anesthetized mouse - Chien et al. 2020


Dopamine is a neurotransmitter involved in key functions of the brain, e.g. motor control, reward, arousal, or motivation. To better understand the modulation of dopamine, it is fundamental to benefit from tools allowing both the manipulation of neuronal circuits and the recording of fluorescent signals in the brain, particularly in freely moving animals.

To perform such experiments, it is recommended that optogenetic actuators and imaging sensors spectra do not overlap. Therefore, expanding the fluorescent indicators palette is the key to successful multi-color imaging experiments.

In this new Nature Method article, Patriarchi et al. designed yellow-shifted and red-shifted dopamine sensors. Following their development of dLight1, a green fluorescent protein-based DA sensor, the team created YdLight1 – 525nm emission peak - and RdLight1 – 588nm emission peak. Exciting work!

Dopamine Pathways. In the brain, dopamine plays an important role in the regulation of reward and movement. As part of the reward pathway, dopamine is manufactured in nerve cell bodies located within the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and is released in the nucleus accumbens and the prefrontal cortex. Its motor functions are linked to a separate pathway, with cell bodies in the substantia nigra that manufacture and release dopamine into the striatum.

 

More information can be found following this link: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41592-020-0936-3.


There was a long time ago when the first brain signal was recorded. Since then science has shown multiple ways to record brain activity in realtime. Somehow the public was shocked when Neuralink has demonstrated this last week. Probably because of Elon Musk the co-founder of Neuralink. Media follows Elon Musk's every step and big announcements. Proving that the implants work was a big step for Neuralink, although the technique was a long time ago described. 


Another fascinating article from Janelia Research Campus in the Current Issue of Nature Methods. Dr. Lavis and his team introduced a new group of red shifted dye called 'Janelia Fluor' (JF) group.  They outlined a general rubric that directly correlates the lactone–zwitterion equilibrium constant (KL–Z) to performance in biological environments. They compared a series of JF rhodamines with different fluorophoric systems. They developed a rubric to relate the performance of simple rhodamine dyes to a single parameter, KL–Z (Figure below), and discovered an inverse correlation between KL–Z and λabs. They hope these new findings help us to design fine-tuned dyes for specific biological applications. Such a great study!

Source: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41592-020-0909-6

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Phenomenological plot categorizing the properties of different dyes based on KL–Z (left) and  plot of KL–Z vs. λabs for JF dyes and general tuning strategies for dyes with short or long λabs.


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The CAJAL Advanced Neuroscience Training Programme represents commitment by the five partner institutions FENS, IBRO, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, University of Bordeaux and the Champalimaud Foundation, which offers state-of-the-art hands-on training courses in neuroscience.

This year the programme is between the 9-27th of November in Bordeaux, France. The original deadline was on the 27th of July, but due to the Covid virus the training programme is still open until the 1st of September 2020.

This course aims to bring students up-to-date with the most recent developments in this exciting and fundamental field of neuroscience research. The focus will be on the advanced experimental approaches that are available today for the dissection of neural circuit connectivity and activity in various animal models (mouse, fly, zebrafish).

The faculty will consist of international experts in their respective fields, discussing fundamental concepts and their own research, introducing methods relevant for neural circuit research, and providing hands-on projects. Students will perform experimental projects to apply these methods to scientific problems, they will learn how to analyze acquired data, and they will discuss strengths and limitations of the various techniques.


Shocking news!

 2020-08-18

Electric foot shock is a complex stressor with both physical and emotional components. It has been employed as an important tool to develop diverse animal models in the field of psychopharmacology.  Animals generally do not habituate to foot shocks in comparison to other stressors, including loud noise, bright light, and hot and cold temperatures. Additionally, it offers an experimental advantage of control over intensity and duration; therefore, by varying its application parameters, different disorder models have been created. 

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Supertech has a wide range of variety of tools for experimenting with foot shock paradigms. AC Shocker is a handy tool in any laboratory which studies associational learning with stressors. Its internal circuitry is based on a constant current generator operating on the mains frequency. The current generator is simplified, but the safety level of this equipment is as good as of the DC Shocker. The current range at the output: 0.05 to 2 mA, which is enough for all acceptable shocking methods for mice and rats. 10-turn helical potentiometer helps to adjust the output current with a great resolution to optimize the level of the shocking current. Manual or computer-controlled with TTL H-level is activation. 


An interesting article was recently published in Elife journal about microglia calcium signaling. These cells are playing a crucial role in brain defense against internal and external hazards. Previously, they were mainly investigated in situ, but Dr. Wu and his colleagues demonstrated nice experiments in vivo in awake mice. They used multiple GCaMP6 variants targeted to microglia, two-photon imaging and Neurotar Air table for in vivo imaging. They showed microglia increased microglial process calcium signaling during hyperactive shifts in neuronal activity (kainate status epilepticus and CaMKIIa Gq DREADD activation).

 

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Summary of findings and observed relationship between neuronal activity and microglial calcium signaling.

For more information: https://elifesciences.org/articles/56502


When laser light illuminates a diffuse object, it produces a random interference effect known as a speckle pattern. If there is movement in the object, the speckles fluctuate in intensity. These fluctuations can provide information about the movement. A simple way of accessing this information is to image the speckle pattern with an exposure time longer than the shortest speckle fluctuation time scale-the fluctuations cause a blurring of the speckle, leading to a reduction in the local speckle contrast. Thus, velocity distributions are coded as speckle contrast variations. The same information can be obtained by using the Doppler effect, but producing a two-dimensional Doppler map requires either scanning of the laser beam or imaging with a high-speed camera: laser speckle contrast imaging (LSCI) avoids the need to scan and can be performed with a normal CCD- or CMOS-camera. LSCI is used primarily to map flow systems, especially blood flow. 

RWD has developed an imaging system that utilizes LSCI with high spatial and temporal resolution. It is non-invasive imaging system with long working distance optics ( 10 - 35 cm ). There are many applications where the technique can be applied such as real-time dynamic blood flow monitoring. Find this system in our webshop.

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Novel method was published in the last issue of Nature METHODS about human genome imaging. Prof. C.-ting Wu and her laboratory introduced OligoFISSEQ technology which vastly increases the number of targets that can be visualized, putting us within reach of genome-wide imaging via the visualization of a multitude of subchromosomal regions. They presented three strategies (sequencing by ligation (SBL), synthesis (SBS) and hybridization (SBH)). They also presented a method to improve barcode detection and traced human X chromosome. In addition, they showed OligoFISSEQ method is compatible with super-resolution STORM microscopy. Super nice examples were shown in this excellent paper.

 

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3D representation of the field of view (FOV) containing three cells sequenced with four rounds of O-LIT.

Source: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41592-020-0890-0


We, humans learn better/faster if there more and more sensations are present what we can associate with learning stuff. Amazement motivates us to learn more, as we find it interesting. There is no more amazing thing on this planet than us. Our brain is unique and beautiful, it is so much fun to learn about it.  How cool would it be to take a ride on Miss Mitsy's "Magic School Bus" and see how our brain works, checking on different shaped neurons and looking at the communications among them. Or having a Virtual Reality tour and watching the information flow from one part of the brain to another one.

Currently, we have not developed the mentioned educational tools. There is a company, Erler-Zimmer which specialized itself to build models, therefore providing a better understanding to doctors, researchers, and students of all kinds. Here we are promoting one unique model, the model of a multiple sclerosis neuron.   It is an enlarged neuron with healthy and unhealthy myelin sheaths. 

It supports the teacher to educate people who don't have the background. It helps to understand the visualization type of students, how we can imagine diseases like MS. 

Furthermore, it could be a unique decoration on your desk ( 14.5 x 4 x 2 cm ) if your research topic is around multiple scoliosis.

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All images shown are for illustration purpose only. See details in Terms.
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