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 Mind-mapping light pulses

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Date posted: 21/05/2008

Martin Fischer at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, US, has developed a new imaging technique. It exploits the fact that the passage of a laser light pulse through neurons is altered when the neurons fire.

By zapping the brain with carefully chosen light pulses, and observing how they are changed by the tissue, it is possible to read out the neuronal activity. Fischer says that this entirely new form of imaging has a spatial resolution on the submicron scale and takes snapshots just milliseconds apart.

However, light will likely only be able to penetrate at best a few millimetres into a brain. Fischer says this is enough to investigate much of the cerebral cortex where all of the brain's higher function lies. Emotional states are too far below the surface to be read this way in humans. The penetration depth should however, be enough to image entire mouse or rat brains. Those are similar enough to our own in terms of emotional development, to be able to perhaps extract the best areas to investigate using other methods.

See the full Story via external site: www.newscientist.com



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