this amazing mini microscope of only 2.5 centimeters and four grams

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It weighs less than a piece of candy and lifts no more than a snail shell, but the “miniscope,” a tiny microscope developed in the University of California (UCLA), can help us unravel mysteries about the brain or even Alzheimer’s, epilepsy or autism.

UCLA researchers have just received a grant from four million dollars of National Institutes of Health (NIH)the leading US medical research agency, to perfect and manufacture new versions of its “miniscope”, designed years ago and which over the last decade has already been used in more than half a thousand laboratories around the world.

Now your goal is to design and assemble two new prototypes that —needs the university— among other advances will allow scientists to “peek much deeper” into the brain.

Objective: better understand the brain

“These are important tools that can be transformative for any neuroscientific question that requires observing the activity of large populations of brain cells in freely behaving animals,” points out Dr. Peyman Golshaniprofessor at UCLA.

One of the great advantages of the tiny microscope is its size, so small that it fits perfectly in the palm of one hand. The device weighs less than four grams and its height around 2.54 centimeters. It is so small that it can fit into a base plate implanted in the top of an animal’s head and collect data on their neural activity. The collected material is then sent to a computer through a small cable.

The fact that researchers can handle the tool with this wide level of flexibility allows them to collect data on the functioning of the brain in contexts that open up a world of possibilities, such as in the midst of the interaction of an animal with others in its community.

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“Whereas previously neural activity could only be observed with much larger and heavier microscopes that had to be fixed in place, the ‘miniscope’ makes it possible to study brain function in animals free to explore their environment and is helping to uncover new insights on social behaviour, memory and neurological diseases”. details UCLA.

Researchers can use it to study neural activity in healthy animals or analyze how their brains behave in different contexts. Another of its most relevant advantages is that it can be used with mouse models and delve into the origin and treatment of neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, epilepsy or autism.

As with previous versions, the UCLA researchers plan to share the information they collect during their work so that other teams can build and operate their own “miniscopes.” NIH-funded models will provide higher resolution and field of view than its predecessors and will make it possible to analyze the structure of brain connections.

Cover Image | Kate Houston/UCLA Neurology

It weighs less than a piece of candy and lifts no more than a snail shell, but the “miniscope,” a…

It weighs less than a piece of candy and lifts no more than a snail shell, but the “miniscope,” a…

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