A team of neuroscientists has produced a series of surprising and detailed images of the brains of the fruit flies.
The images are not quite pictures, but they were captured by visible light. To create them, the researchers combined two techniques: one that made brain tissue much larger than its usual size, and another that allowed researchers to take accurate photos of this tissue without damaging it . [Magnificent Microphotography: 50 Tiny Wonders]
The result was a colorful and completely searchable map of a fruit fly brain, which according to an MIT statement (where one of the researchers works) is not bigger than a poppy seed.
Making a delicate fabric is a complicated business, but it can be useful for the research of neuroscience; In many circumstances, neurons and their connections are too small to facilitate the image and the map. The technique, called the "expansion microscope", emerged for the first time in 2015, detailed in a document by Ed Boyden (one of the creators of the images of the fruit fly and a neuroscientist of MIT) and two other researchers.
Because the technique worked, they found a polymer that would enter the cells without destroying them. Then he wrapped a mouse brain on things. Once the polymers impregnated the tissue, the researchers poured a bath on the tissue that made the polymers expand, physically expanding the cells to facilitate the study.
Only this technique would not have been enough to create these beautiful brain images. To scan the brain expanded in sufficient detail, the researchers used a technique previously developed by another co-author: Eric Betzig, a biologist at UC Berkeley, for rapid 3D scanning tissues that only used light and microscopes.
This technique, called "reticular light sheet microscopy", involves shining a line of light through the lower part of the tissue. Appears only a flat plane of the fabric, as if a single slice began to shine inside a bread, bright enough to be seen through the front of the bread. A microscope camera mounted at an angle of 90 degrees in the beam of the light allows to detect this illuminated plane and record what it seems. Do it over and over again (from the front to the back), and stay with a three-dimensional image of the fabric.
This is very important, researchers said, since both microscopy of expansion and reticular leaf microscopy are relatively quick and simple methods for neuroscientists who can use them in their laboratories. And now, combined, they can allow researchers to quickly show large bits of brain with incredible detail.
Neuroscience is increasingly concerned about understanding large portions of the brain without allowing a microscopic vision of what is happening. Some researchers think that mapping the brain in detail could unlock their secrets. Now, they have a new way of doing it.
Originally posted on Live science.