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Study synaptic dynamics with millisecond precision

Are you looking for a better understanding of the neural code? Are you looking for a way to reveal the transformation a neuron undergoes when exposed to specific stimuli with high temporal precision? The combination of electrical stimulation and high pressure freezing has the potential to help neurobiologists reveal the missing link which leads to a better understanding why and how neural plasticity works.

Reach the millisecond-resolution in synaptic dynamics

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Capture the moment of your discovery

What if you could dissect the synaptic dynamics with millisecond precision? To resolve controversial questions in neurobiology employing new techniques for visualizing cellular activity is essential.

The recycling of synaptic vesicles in nerve terminals involves multiple steps, underlies all aspects of synaptic transmission. It is a key to understanding the basis of synaptic plasticity. To follow membrane dynamics at synaptic terminals, neurons must be immobilized at defined time points after stimulation with millisecond precision. 

This is where high-pressure freezing comes into play. It allows for the near-instantaneous immobilization of cells. By varying the time intervals between stimulation and freezing, membrane trafficking within synaptic terminals can be captured following the induction of an action potential.

The Leica high pressure freezer, EM ICE, with electrical stimulation offers millisecond precision. To study neural circuits, it offers the precise coordination of electrical discharge at the moment of freezing. This advance in technology gives neurobiology the most reliable tool for capturing and imaging action potential and membrane trafficking events.

Visualize highly dynamic processes

A new approach allows scientists to capture and image visualize highly dynamic processes or the structural changes of samples at a nanometer resolution and with millisecond precision. Dissecting the processes step-by-step makes it e.g. easier to follow the ultrafast recycling of synaptic vesicles at nerve terminals in detail. This phenomenon is key to understanding the pathogenesis of a number of neurological disorders. Learn about the basic functioning of the method in the animated video.

Free Webinar

Revealing Cellular Dynamics with Millisecond Precision is the subject of a webinar that Leica Microsystems offers in cooperation with BiteSize Bio. Learn how to turn Electron Micrographs in Motion Pictures of Neural Communication. The Webinar has been recorded on March 29th 2017. Follow the link below to view the webinar replay.

Speakers are Dr. Shigeki Watanabe, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Dr. Frédéric Leroux, Leica Microsystems.

View the webinar replay to hear the story of discovery

Application Note

Visualization of Membrane Dynamics with Millisecond Temporal Resolution

Electrical stimulation of neurons combined with high-pressure freezing allows physiological activation of synaptic activity and precise control over the time frame of the inducted synaptic activity.

Dr. Shigeki Watanabe, Department of Cell Biology, Johns Hopkins University Baltimore

Whitepaper Download

Electrical stimulation

The quest for understanding membrane dynamics or why electrical stimulation and high-pressure freezing can be the way to visualize synaptic function.

Dr. Shigeki Watanabe, Department of Cell Biology, Johns Hopkins University Baltimore

Video: Flash and freeze

Probing fast cellular events. How to use stimulation in combination with high pressure freezing to dissect synaptic vesicles endocytosis. Speaker: Erik M. Jorgensen, University of Utah

In addition a video by Jove demonstrates a procedure how to capture membrane dynamics by electron microscopy following induction of neuronal activity using optogenetics and freezing cells at defined timepoints after stimulation. This method can help to answer key question in Neuroscience and cell biology about the mechanisms of synaptic vesicle recycling. Watch the video.



The EM ICE High Pressure Freezer from Leica

The instruments combines high pressure freezing with electrical stimulation as well as light stimulation. This allows precise control over the time frame of the inducted synaptic activity. Now you can study synaptic dynamics with high temporal resolution.