In this paper we report the use of adaptive optics to correct for sample induced aberrations in optical microscopy, crucially comparing individual pixel-by-pixel correction against a single correction for an entire optical section. Sample induced optical aberrations in slices of rat brain tissue were corrected with a deformable membrane mirror. Using axial resolution measurements, we demonstrate that a single aberration correction per optical slice achieves around 80% of the maximum possible improvement compared to individual pixel-by-pixel correction in both confocal and multiphoton microscopy. A single aberration correction per depth, compared to pixel-by-pixel aberration correction, significantly decreases scan times and therefore reduces photobleaching and phototoxic effects enabling more rapid microscopy with active aberration correction. The results confirm that the use of a "look-up" table, based upon sample type and depth, may be the most practical way of implementing adaptive optic aberration correction in beam scanning optical sectioning microscopy.
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