May 26th, 2015 | Company News

Shedding Light on the Brain

The photonics industry is at the cutting-edge of research and leading technological and medical advances. Scientists are ever-closer to understanding complex issues including how the brain works and particularly the mechanisms of destructive diseases. The simultaneous development of imaging techniques such as two-photon microscopy with neuron activation and inhibition allow more detailed analysis of neuronal activity. ‘These techniques have allowed neurologists to activate and simultaneously image neural pathways, enabling them to map neural networks and better understand their individual functions.’ Barney Mitchell from Laser Quantum continues to explain, ‘this is pushing forward our knowledge of neurological diseases, and will ultimately lead to better treatment and possibly cures for diseases such as Parkinson’s.’ Two-photon microscopy enables scientists to view live biological specimens in real time. This advancement on traditional fluorescence microscopy, where labelled molecules fluoresce under visible/UV light and are observed under a microscope, utilises femtosecond lasers. Femtosecond lasers are able to deliver high-intensity infrared light in suitably short pulses to allow simultaneous absorption, giving the same fluorescent effect achieved with absorption of visible / UV light, but isolated at the focal point of the laser. The infrared wavelengths pass through biological tissue without causing significant fluorescence before reaching the focal point, enabling imaging of regions significantly below the surface of the sample. The ability to focus the beam at a depth within the sample allows scientists to observe real changes inside a living, active brain, even down to hundreds of micrometres below the brain surface. Please read the full article by Jessica Rowbury: