This High Speed Camera Can Allow You to See Neurons Firing in the Brain


 

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High speed cameras are used for a variety of awesome applications such as vision research, engineering, and laboratory studies. But now, these cameras are taking better pictures than ever before. Scientists are now using high speed cameras to capture neurons as they fire.

That?s right ? a high speed, super slow motion camera can allow you to actually see the instantaneous electrical signals firing in your brain.

This new type of photography is called single-shot compressed ultrafast photography (CUP) and it captures a picosecond laser pulse as it travels through the air.

Previously, scientists developed what is known as a ?streak camera.? This device captured images at speeds of 100 billion frames per second in just a single exposure. At the time, this was the fastest camera in the world.

Since then, researchers from Washington University in St. Louis improved upon this technique, boosting resolution by nearly two and a half times. They began with the streak camera and added a standard digital camera. This merger allowed them to enhance the reconstruction of images, producing higher resolution while improving contrast and cleaning up the backgrounds.

?Neural signals can propagate along nerves at speeds of over 100 meters per second (223 mph),? said Lihong Wang, a physicist at Washington University who led the research. ?That kind of speed is too high for any current cameras to capture. We hope we can use our system to study neural networks to understand how the brain works.?

The researchers figure that if the billion-frames-per-second speed is fast enough to capture the image of neurons firing in the brain, it could lead to major advancements in learning more about how we take in and process information.

Next, the researchers hope to use this new technology to analyze biochemical reactions that occur within cells in order to study combustion. This, Wang said, would ?optimize fuel efficiency.?

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