Bilal Haider is examining how several areas of the brain work together for visual perception. This might be helpful for researchers to understand if neural activity traffic jams support all kinds of visual impairments: from running a red light when visual attention is elsewhere, to shedding light on the autism-affected brain.
To do this type of work, researchers need a reliable map of all visual brain areas with specific coordinates for each particular individual brain. This technique involves monitoring and recording data from an active, working brain, which typically means creating a window in the skull to observe blood flow activity.
In a paper published in February inScientific Reports, the Haiders team has developed a better approach, a new kind of window that is more stable and convenient for longer-term research.
For capturing a clear image of the brain''s visual network, the Haiders lab employs an established technique called blood flow imaging, which tracks oxygen in the blood, and measures the active and inactive areas of a mouse brain while the animal perceives visual stimuli. Typically, researchers create a cranial window by thinning the skull or removing a piece of it altogether. These techniques can stifle stability in the awake brain, posing adverse conditions for delicate electrophysiological measurements done in
According to Haider, standard windows provide excellent shots of the vasculature. However, if you''re working with an animal who requires weeks of training and want to do neural recordings later, that area has been compromised if the skull is missing or thinned out.
The team''s new cranial window system allows for high-quality blood flow imaging and steady electrical recordings for weeks or even months. Vetbond, a surgical glue that contains cyanoacrylate, the same compound that is found in Krazy Glue and a tiny glass window, is the secret.
Typically, a thin layer of glue is applied to the skull with a micropipette and a curved glass coverslip is placed on top. The cyanoacrylate creates a transparent skull effect. The Haiders team developed the new window system and then assessed the accuracy of the resulting visual brain maps.
Sometimes the simplest things work. The glue creates a barrier, perjury all of the normal physiological processes underneath to continue, but keeping the bone transparent, according to Haider. Its like putting a protector on your smartphone. The protector is over the glass surface, but everything underneath remains crystal clear and functioning.
Haider''s approach will assist his team achieve their most important goals, including to measure the activity of neurons in the brains visual pathways and understand how neural traffic patterns impact our visual attention, and how these effects may impact visual impairments in people with autism. It''s a lot of work that has been boosted since theSimons Foundation Autism Research Initiative received a grant.
Haider claims that a thorough brain research of neural activity requires repeatable measurements of neural activity, thus that the new window system has been publicly available.
We believe this will be beneficial to other researchers, according to the president. We made the code, all the hardware, all the features of the system, and everything, totally public so that other people may try it themselves. This idea is intended to be used in our visual brain research, but it may be used to conduct long-term experiments while keeping the brain stable and healthy.