In recent years there has been a strong trend to enhance traditional research techniques in neuroscience with optical-based techniques. The trend is evident on every level of neuroscience research, spatially spanning submicron to centimeters and temporally spanning submillisecond to seconds. Optical techniques are attractive because they enable researchers to study brain function from the smallest functional unit, ion channels in small patches of excitable membranes, to its largest unit, monitoring the correlates of cognitive activity in the human brain. Another major advantage of optical imaging methods is that in most cases using light as a probe enables the researcher to study the neural tissue without any direct contact; being noninvasive to the tissue is especially important in in vivo studies. Finally, most optical research is performed with compact, mobile, and affordable equipment that can be readily integrated in existing research facilities.
© 2005 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers
David A. Boas, Ph.D. and Ron D. Frostig, Ph.D.
"Optics in Neuroscience", J. Biomed. Opt. 10(1), 011001 (Feb. 10, 2005). ; http://dx.doi.org/10.1117/1.1851511