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J Neurosci Methods. 2013 Apr 30;215(1):38-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2013.02.006. Epub 2013 Feb 14.

HelioScan: a software framework for controlling in vivo microscopy setups with high hardware flexibility, functional diversity and extendibility.

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Brain Research Institute, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland.


Intravital microscopy such as in vivo imaging of brain dynamics is often performed with custom-built microscope setups controlled by custom-written software to meet specific requirements. Continuous technological advancement in the field has created a need for new control software that is flexible enough to support the biological researcher with innovative imaging techniques and provide the developer with a solid platform for quickly and easily implementing new extensions. Here, we introduce HelioScan, a software package written in LabVIEW, as a platform serving this dual role. HelioScan is designed as a collection of components that can be flexibly assembled into microscope control software tailored to the particular hardware and functionality requirements. Moreover, HelioScan provides a software framework, within which new functionality can be implemented in a quick and structured manner. A specific HelioScan application assembles at run-time from individual software components, based on user-definable configuration files. Due to its component-based architecture, HelioScan can exploit synergies of multiple developers working in parallel on different components in a community effort. We exemplify the capabilities and versatility of HelioScan by demonstrating several in vivo brain imaging modes, including camera-based intrinsic optical signal imaging for functional mapping of cortical areas, standard two-photon laser-scanning microscopy using galvanometric mirrors, and high-speed in vivo two-photon calcium imaging using either acousto-optic deflectors or a resonant scanner. We recommend HelioScan as a convenient software framework for the in vivo imaging community.

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