Three could be the magic number when it comes to photons for imaging action potentials
The brain is a complicated electrical circuit that utilises voltage changes across cellular membranes as a key mediator of signalling. Numerous techniques have been used to explore the electrophysiology of brain circuits, from electrode recordings to the use of voltage-sensitive dyes. Genetically encoded voltage indicators (GEVIs) are an emerging technology for monitoring electrical dynamics. These engineered light-emitting protein sensors change their brightness in response to changes in neuronal voltage. The EU-funded MULTIVIsion project is advancing the capabilities of GEVIs with three-photon imaging. Three-photon imaging relies on the simultaneous interaction of three photons with a fluorescent molecule, exciting it to a higher electronic state than two-photon or one-photon imaging. The longer wavelengths used result in less scatter and clearer images, even in deeper tissues. A clearer 'snapshot' of an action potential could shed light on learning and memory formation at the level of individual neurons.
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