Computer assisted morphometric data acquisition, processing and analysis

Structural analysis of brain cells and systems based on three dimensional reconstructions from serial histological sections contributes to the understanding of the brain functions. Microscopes connected with computers and controlled by specialized programs, facilitating the interaction between user, equipment and data on the histological sections, are very useful, but specific procedures implying software development need to be designed in order to accommodate the contradictory constraints implicated in data recording.

Structural analysis of brain cells and systems using 3D reconstructions from serial sections: To characterize the axonal tree and the distribution of boutons in thalamo-cortical axons the axonal length, number of axonal branches and the position of each axonal bouton need to be measured. Two dimensional parameters representing the density in the areal extent of the axon projection in a plane tangential to the pial surface can be computed. The area with high bouton-density may be responsible for the functional topography of barrelles cortex.

Stereological estimations of morphometric parameters in the nervous system: Unbiased stereological methods can be used to estimate total number of cellular populations or other parameters before doing statistical analysis. The complexity of problems needs again adequate computer-microscopes and programs.

Living cells response analysis in time-lapse recordings. Synaptic vesicle turnover can be assessed in a quantitative manner by FM1-43 fluorescence traces in primary cultures of mouse cortical neurons. Traces recorded during experiments with successive electrical and high K+ stimulations can be classified and analyzed using a home made Matlab program.

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