MIT Imaging Brain's Electrical Activities by Fluorescent Sensors

MIT Brain Voltage Imaging

MIT Brain Voltage Imaging

Scientist found that the neurons in the brain uses electrical impulses to communicate and coordinate behaviors, sensing, thinking and many more. MIT researchers have come up with a way to capture and study electrical impulses in the brain with more details using fluorescent signals that can indicate how much of voltage carrying by the signals in each millisecond.

For the last decades scientist worked on imaging brain activities by recording with electrodes and fluorescent molecules that can be used for this kind of imaging has been difficult due to the sensitivity changes by the voltage and resistant to photobleaching which is the fading of data by exposing to light.

To over come that issue MIT researcher Edward Boyden a member of MIT's Media Lab, McGovern Institute for Brain Research and Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and HHMI-Simons Faculty Scholar, by building a robot who can capture and record millions of proteins generated through a process named protein evolution. Boyden and project researchers have developed 1.5 million mutated versions of light sensitive protein named QuasAr2 previously in Harvard University lab called Adam Cohen's Lab in 2010.

By using Archon1 gene protein embeds with a cell membrane which can get accurate measurements of the cell voltage can be seen by exposing to light and image the resulting fluorescence. 

"Traditionally, it has been excruciatingly labor intensive to engineer fluorescent volotage indicators, because each mutant had to be cloned individually and then tested through a slow manual patch-clamp electrocardiography measurement. The Boyden lab developed a very clever high-throughput screening approach to this problem. Their new reporter looks really great in fish and worms and in brain clices. I'm eager to try it in my lab" - Cohen, Harvard Professor who developed the predecessor to Archon 1

Source - MIT