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Brain Topogr. 1992 Winter;5(2):71-5.

Optical imaging of architecture and function in the living brain sheds new light on cortical mechanisms underlying visual perception.

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  • 1Department of Neurobiology, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.


Long standing questions related to brain mechanisms underlying perception can finally be resolved by direct visualization of the architecture and function of mammalian cortex. This advance has been accomplished with the aid of two optical imaging techniques with which one can literally see how the brain functions. The upbringing of this technology required a multi-disciplinary approach integrating brain research with organic chemistry, spectroscopy, biophysics, computer sciences, optics and image processing. Beyond the technological ramifications, recent research shed new light on cortical mechanisms underlying sensory perception. Clinical applications of this technology for precise mapping of the cortical surface of patients during neurosurgery have begun. Below is a brief summary of our own research and a description of the technical specifications of the two optical imaging techniques. Like every technique, optical imaging also suffers from severe limitations. Here we mostly emphasize some of its advantages relative to all alternative imaging techniques currently in use. The limitations are critically discussed in our recent reviews. For a series of other reviews, see Cohen (1989).

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