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Successful in vivo image-guided autopatching achieved

Utilizing autopatching, MIT engineers have devised a way to monitor neurons in a living brain using a computer algorithm that analyzes microscope images and guides a robotic arm to the target cell. By combining several imaging processing techniques, the researchers came up with an algorithm that guides the pipette to within about 25 microns of the target cell. At that point, the system begins to rely on a combination of imagery and impedance, which is more accurate at detecting contact between the pipette and the target cell than either signal alone. Amazingly, the success rate is comparable to that of highly trained scientists performing the process manually.

In this image, a pipette guided by a robotic arm approaches a neuron identified with a fluorescent stain.













“It’s almost like trying to hit a moving target inside the brain, which is a delicate tissue,” Suk says. “For machines it’s easier because they can keep track of where the cell is, they can automatically move the focus of the microscope, and they can automatically move the pipette.”

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MIT News – Engineering on the brain

MIT News

Learn about the birth of a new field – called neurotechnology – which some believe is in its infancy and will spawn enormous companies and rival the size and scope of the existing biotechnology industry.  “There’s not a lot of precedent for neurotechnology entrepreneurship,” says Dr. Ed Boyden from MIT. “That’s part of the fun, because there isn’t a cookbook to follow.”

Boyden and Bonsen believe that neurotechnology is poised to take off, much as biotechnology was two decades ago. “We haven’t yet seen the founding of the Biogen or Genzyme of the neurotech field,” Bonsen says. “But I fully suspect that analogs to those companies are being born or blossoming now.”

MIT News April 2013 – “Students have engineering on the brain”

The Scientist – Brains in Action: Worms, Fish, Flies, and Mice


The Scientist explores the latest technology that researchers are using for brain monitoring in four organisms: worms, fish, flies, and mice. Specifically, automated whole-cell patch clamping is highlighted, which could serve as the foundation for the execution of high-throughput experiments—recording from hundreds of neurons, or even dozens of animals, in real time.

The Scientist Feburary 2014 – “Brains in Action”

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