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Neuroscience Research

Neuroscience often requires investigating challenging complex specimens using a microscope in order to better understand the nervous system. Leica Microsystems offers a comprehensive range of imaging solutions which enable you to overcome these challenges.

Neuroscience is a multidisciplinary field involving the study of the structure and function of the nervous system. The purpose is to understand the development of cognitive and behavioral processes as well as understand and find therapies for disorders, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.

The use of microscopy techniques is critical to visualize the nervous system at cellular and subcellular levels and view any molecular changes within context. Recent developments in deep tissue imaging have provided further insights into neuronal function. Emerging technologies like genetic cell labeling and optogenetics complement these developments.

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Imaging challenges for neuroscience research

Research of the nervous system often requires the combination of high resolution, deep imaging and visualization of large sections. You also require flexibility to image different types of samples, such as live cells, tissues, organoids, and model organisms.

The study of fast dynamic processes, such as cell transport or synaptic remodeling, require high-speed microscopy. One of the main challenges of high-speed microscopy is acquiring high-resolution images while avoiding fluorescence saturation.

Neuroscience research often involves wide-area and volumetric imaging. The need to reduce fluorescence scattering and the background signal can make acquiring images with high contrast and resolution difficult, which is particularly critical when examining neuronal architecture in dense tissues like brain sections.

Microscopy Methods for Neuroscience Research

The study of the nervous system typically relies on confocal microscopy for high resolution imaging of events and structures. For deeper in vivo imaging, multiphoton microscopy is used, as its capacity to use near-infrared excitation reduces light scattering, enabling deep imaging with minimal invasiveness. Lightsheet microscopy is also preferred for light-sensitive or 3D samples. It reduces phototoxicity while providing intrinsic optical sectioning and 3D imaging.

Optogenetics is a technique that involves controlling neural activity using light and enables the study of specific neuronal networks and cell signaling. It requires the expression of light-sensitive proteins in the neuronal cell membrane. Exploring events at the nanoscale using optogenetics in combination with timed millisecond precision vitrification is a promising technology to study specific time points within a dynamic process.

Electrophysiology is the study of the electrical properties of tissues and cells and includes the study of the electrical properties of neurons. The function of nerve and muscle cells relies on ionic currents flowing through ion channels. One way to investigate ion channels is to use patch clamping. This method allows investigation of ion channels in detail and recording of the electric activity of different types of cells, mainly excitable cells like neurons.

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Featured image

Neuronal cells

Nucleus (DAPI, blue), Tubulin (Cy3, green), Nestin (Cy5, red), DCX (Cy2, magenta). Acquired with the DMi8 S system

Light Microscopes

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Communities and Web Sources

www.researchgate.net/Social network for scientists

http://www.ibiology.org/Teaching tools, video lectures on biology and microscopy

bitesizebio.comOnline magazine and community for molecular and cell biology researchers

www.somersault1824.comResource for high-end scientific illustrations, images and animations

Search Engines and Data Bases

www.cellimagelibrary.orgPublic resource database of images, videos, and animations of cells

harvester.fzk.de/harvesterBioinformatic meta search engine for genes and proteins

www.gopubmed.comSearch interface for pubmed

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_academic_databases_and_search_enginesList of academic databases and search engines

scholar.google.comBeta of Google's search engine for scientific article abstracts

Journals

www.jneurosci.org/The Journal of Neuroscience

www.journals.elsevier.com/neuroscience/Neuroscience

www.journals.elsevier.com/neuroscience-letters/Neuroscience Letters

www.wiley.com/bw/journal.asp?ref=0953-816X&site=1Europaen Journal of Neuroscience

www.doaj.org/Directory of open access journals

emboj.embopress.org/The EMBO Journal

www.lifescied.orgCBE-Life Sciences Education – an ASCB online journal

www.sciencemag.org/Science

www.nature.com/Nature

www.cell.com/Biweekly publication of exceptional research articles

jcs.biologists.org/Journal of Cell Science

dev.biologists.org/Development

jeb.biologists.org/The Journal of Experimental Biology

dmm.biologists.org/DMM Disease Models & Mechanisms

www.biotechniques.com/International Journal of Life Science Methods

www.plosone.org/home.actionInternational, peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication

www.microscopy-analysis.com/International Journal for microscopists

Organizations

www.sfn.org/Society for Neuroscience

nwg.glia.mdc-berlin.de/en/German Neuroscience Society

www.ascb.org/ASCB American Society of Cell Biology

www.biologists.com/cob_activities.htmlthe company of biologists

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