Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Brain architecture revealed by microscopy without need for labelling

17 April 2022

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Allowing scientists to snoop on life in dark places, microscopy continues to adapt to new challenges. One problem is that lasers aimed into delicate tissues like the brain usually need something to aim at – perhaps molecules of chemical dyes that label or ‘tag’ important structures. Yet labels can interfere with microscopic life, or hide subtle details behind their glare. Here, researchers have used a technique called QLIPP to take a detailed look inside an adult mouse’s brain without labelling. Instead, they measure what happens to laser light as it hits or passes through the tissues – changes in orientation reveal shapes and textures (highlighted in different colour) while delays in the light’s waves, their retardance, reveal different densities (highlighted by brightness). The team used use deep-learning to pinpoint areas like the thalamus (middle, blue) and optic tract (bottom yellow and purple) – in the future they may spot subtle changes in health and disease.

Written by John Ankers

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