Imaging nervous system activity

Curr Protoc Neurosci. 2001 May;Chapter 2:Unit 2.3. doi: 10.1002/0471142301.ns0203s00.


Optical imaging methods rely upon visualization of three types of signals: (1) intrinsic optical signals, including light scattering and reflectance, birefringence, and spectroscopic changes of intrinsic molecules, such as NADH or oxyhemoglobin; (2) changes in fluorescence or absorbance of voltage-sensitive membrane dyes; and (3) changes in fluorescence or absorbance of calcium-sensitive indicator dyes. Of these, the most widely used approach is fluorescent microscopy of calcium-sensitive dyes. This unit describes protocols for the use of calcium-sensitive dyes and voltage-dependent dyes for studies of neuronal activity in culture, tissue slices, and en-bloc preparations of the central nervous system.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Fluorescent Dyes / analysis
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / instrumentation
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods*
  • Nervous System / chemistry
  • Nervous System / cytology*
  • Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Neurons / chemistry
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism


  • Fluorescent Dyes