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Neuroimage. 1994 Jun;1(3):181-90.

Imaging optical reflectance in rodent barrel and forelimb sensory cortex.

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Department of Neurology, UCLA School of Medicine 90024, USA.


Novel neuroimaging techniques are extending the scope for studying dynamic brain function. We have developed a system which enables the repeatable imaging of rapid function in rodent primary somatosensory cortex (S-I), based on activity-related changes in its optical reflectance (intrinsic signals). The S-I cortices of anesthetized male Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed. Images were acquired with a slow-scan, cooled, charge-coupled device camera (CCD) through filters at 550, 610, and 850 nm before, during, and after contralateral stimulation (vibrissal deflection or forepaw stimulation). Images were divided by prestimulus controls and then averaged across 9-27 trials to produce maps of stimulus-related reflectance change. Optical activity had magnitude 10(-3) of baseline reflectance and consistently comprised two distinct spatiotemporal components over cortex, depending on paradigm. The diffuse signal at 610 nm begins 0.5-1 s after stimulus onset and has a duration of 4-5 s. The second signal is macrovenous and is delayed by 1 s. Similar response patterns were observed at 550 and 850 nm. Evoked potentials, recorded at sites inside and outside the zone of optical activity, confirmed the functional nature of these signals. Using a CCD we have imaged functional reflectance changes over rodent S-I which commence, peak, and extinguish over a time scale of seconds. This optical activity is consistent with the etiologies of microvascular recruitment and chromophore redox change.

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