Italian scientists have made it possible to take a three dimensional journey through a mouse's brain. Using a combination of sophisticated microscopes, the Florence-based team say they now hope to produce similar images of a human brain. Jim Drury tells the story.
A journey into the depths of a mouse's brain. They are the clearest 3D images of a rodent's brain yet produced, according to the scientists who created them. The green spots represent neurons that generate electrical signals leaving the brain. Here we enter the hippocampus, the area responsible for functions like memory and spatial navigation. Using a new technique called confocal light-sheet microscopy, Professor Francesco Pavone and his team created 3D sample slices with a laser. Background blur associated with conventional microscopy images were eliminated by a filtering system that removes stray light. The work was done at the European Laboratory for Non Linear Spectroscopy in Florence. The team hopes it will give new insight into mouse versions of diseases like autism and stroke. Their next task is to produce a similar fly-through of a human brain.