Light scattering properties vary across different regions of the adult mouse brain

PLoS One. 2013 Jul 9;8(7):e67626. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067626. Print 2013.


Recently developed optogenetic tools provide powerful approaches to optically excite or inhibit neural activity. In a typical in-vivo experiment, light is delivered to deep nuclei via an implanted optical fiber. Light intensity attenuates with increasing distance from the fiber tip, determining the volume of tissue in which optogenetic proteins can successfully be activated. However, whether and how this volume of effective light intensity varies as a function of brain region or wavelength has not been systematically studied. The goal of this study was to measure and compare how light scatters in different areas of the mouse brain. We delivered different wavelengths of light via optical fibers to acute slices of mouse brainstem, midbrain and forebrain tissue. We measured light intensity as a function of distance from the fiber tip, and used the data to model the spread of light in specific regions of the mouse brain. We found substantial differences in effective attenuation coefficients among different brain areas, which lead to substantial differences in light intensity demands for optogenetic experiments. The use of light of different wavelengths additionally changes how light illuminates a given brain area. We created a brain atlas of effective attenuation coefficients of the adult mouse brain, and integrated our data into an application that can be used to estimate light scattering as well as required light intensity for optogenetic manipulation within a given volume of tissue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain / radiation effects*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Female
  • Light*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Optical Fibers
  • Photic Stimulation*
  • Scattering, Radiation*