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Jun 27, 2020

A focused approach to imaging neural activity in the brain

Posted by in categories: electronics, neuroscience

When neurons fire an electrical impulse, they also experience a surge of calcium ions. By measuring those surges, researchers can indirectly monitor neuron activity, helping them to study the role of individual neurons in many different brain functions.

One drawback to this technique is the crosstalk generated by the axons and dendrites that extend from neighboring neurons, which makes it harder to get a distinctive signal from the neuron being studied. MIT engineers have now developed a way to overcome that issue, by creating indicators, or sensors, that accumulate only in the body of a neuron.

“People are using calcium indicators for monitoring neural activity in many parts of the brain,” says Edward Boyden, the Y. Eva Tan Professor in Neurotechnology and a professor of biological engineering and of brain and cognitive sciences at MIT. “Now they can get better results, obtaining more accurate neural recordings that are less contaminated by crosstalk.”

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