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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008 Mar;9(3):195-205. doi: 10.1038/nrn2338.

Imaging in vivo: watching the brain in action.

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Network Imaging Group, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Spemannstrasse 41, D-72076 Tuebingen, Germany.


The appeal of in vivo cellular imaging to any neuroscientist is not hard to understand: it is almost impossible to isolate individual neurons while keeping them and their complex interactions with surrounding tissue intact. These interactions lead to the complex network dynamics that underlie neural computation which, in turn, forms the basis of cognition, perception and consciousness. In vivo imaging allows the study of both form and function in reasonably intact preparations, often with subcellular spatial resolution, a time resolution of milliseconds and a purview of months. Recently, the limits of what can be achieved in vivo have been pushed into terrain that was previously only accessible in vitro, due to advances in both physical-imaging technology and the design of molecular contrast agents.

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