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Neurosignals. 2008;16(4):260-77. doi: 10.1159/000123037. Epub 2008 Jul 18.

Imaging of molecular dynamics regulated by electrical activities in neural circuits and in synapses.

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Waseda-Olympus Bioscience Research Institute, Waseda University, Singapore.


One of the major challenges in brain research is to unravel a network of molecules, neurons, circuits and systems that are responsible for dynamic and hierarchical brain functions. To understand molecular events that occur in synapses could be an important key to exploring the mechanism of information processing. A spatiotemporal recording method is required to observe neuronal activities in a particular local circuit and to resolve single synaptic potential with high resolution. As alternative methods, real-time imaging using fluorescent probes and optical recording methods are also a powerful approach for investigating the molecular dynamics of biological events in neurons in vitro and in vivo. Recently, optical imaging techniques have become of great importance to visualize the molecular dynamics in a micron-sized compartment of a single neuron such as neuronal synapse. In general, the presynaptic axon forms synapses at the postsynaptic site on the dendritic spines in the mammalian central nervous system. Subsets of the synapses undergo a series of enduring changes in spine shape and density as well as alterations in electrophysiological functions. Here we describe recent optical imaging studies conducted by elaborate methods and techniques that provide evidence for the link between neural activity and molecular dynamics.

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