Success rate is comparable to that of highly trained scientists performing the process manually.
Anne Trafton | MIT News Office
Recording electrical signals from inside a neuron in the living brain can reveal a great deal of information about that neuron’s function and how it coordinates with other cells in the brain. However, performing this kind of recording is extremely difficult, so only a handful of neuroscience labs around the world do it.
To make this technique more widely available, MIT engineers have now devised a way to automate the process, using a computer algorithm that analyzes microscope images and guides a robotic arm to the target cell.
This technology could allow more scientists to study single neurons and learn how they interact with other cells to enable cognition, sensory perception, and other brain functions. Researchers could also use it to learn more about how neural circuits are affected by brain disorders.
“Knowing how neurons communicate is fundamental to basic and clinical neuroscience. Our hope is this technology will allow you to look at what’s happening inside a cell, in terms of neural computation, or in a disease state,” says Ed Boyden, an associate professor of biological engineering and brain and cognitive sciences at MIT, and a member of MIT’s Media Lab and McGovern Institute for Brain Research.
Boyden is the senior author of the paper, which appears in the Aug. 30 issue of Neuron. The paper’s lead author is MIT graduate student Ho-Jun Suk...
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