Neurology Central

New noninvasive technique could be used to study the living brain

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Researchers from the University of Washington (WA, USA) have utilized a noninvasive light-based imaging technology to study the living brain. This new approach could be harnessed to examine how diseases such as Alzheimer’s and brain tumors affect brain tissue over time. The findings were published recently in the Journal of Biomedical Optics.

The authors Woo June Choi and Ruikang Wang, both of the University of Washington, predict that the new technology known as optical coherence tomography (OCT) will enable the study of acute and chronic morphological or functional vascular changes within the deep brain, which has not been commonly achieved with this type of technology.

The researchers utilized swept-source OCT powered by a vertical cavity surface emitting laser. They described how swept-source OCT powered by a 1.3 μm vertical cavity surface emitting laser enabled 2.3 mm deep brain imaging in mice in vivo. This technique could potentially be applied further to the brain, allowing researchers to monitor morphological changes caused by diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, or to study the effects of aging on the brain. The authors suggest it may even be possible to carry out full-length imaging of a human eye from cornea to retina.

Optical coherence tomography obtains images of tissue at around the same resolution as a low-power microscope, and can rapidly provide cross-sectional images of tissue layers without the need for ionizing radiation or surgery.

OCT’s application to neuroscience has previously been limited as the technology has been unable to image more than 1 mm below the surface of tissue. Recently, however, swept-source OCT powered by vertical cavity surface emitting lasers has been developed, which has greatly improved the image range to more than 2 mm.

Source: SPIE press release

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