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Peering into intact brain made easier

Posted on Jun 21 2014 | IANS

Washington, June 21 : In what could unravel the inner connections of how thoughts, memories or diseases arise, scientists have improved on their original technique for peering into the intact brain, making it more reliable and safer.

Scientists at Stanford University in the US who developed the technique called 'CLARITY', that provided spectacular fly-through views of its inner connections, have now improvised it into 'passive CLARITY' technique by pulling out the fats in a brain by using chemicals and a warm bath.

The new method takes a little longer than the original one, but is much easier to operate and removes all the fat without damaging the tissue, researchers claimed.

"There have been a number of remarkable results described using CLARITY," said Karl Deisseroth, a professor at Stanford University.

Using this technique, Deisseroth and his colleagues imaged the neurological wiring in a mouse's brain.

The new 'CLARITY' technique works by removing this fatty covering, which makes the brain appear see-through and reveals its intricate wiring.

Normally, when the brain is seen through a microscope, it appears opaque, because of the fatty material that shrouds nerve cells and acts like the insulation on electrical wires.

Not many labs were set up to use the so-called 'CLARITY' technique reliably, and the most common microscopy methods were not designed to image an entire transparent brain.

Passive CLARITY requires nothing more than some chemicals, a warm bath and time.

The study appeared in the journal Nature Protocols.

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