Simple microcomputer system for mapping tissue sections with the light microscope

J Neurosci Methods. 1988 Sep;25(2):165-73. doi: 10.1016/0165-0270(88)90155-0.


We describe a method for two-dimensional mapping of tissue sections that makes use of a drawing tube, microscope stage encoders and a microcomputer. The drawing tube views the graphics monitor and superimposes the image of the screen cursor and on-screen menus on the specimen image. Thus, the position of every landmark in each microscopic field can be mapped without stage movement while directly viewing the specimen through the microscope. A mouse is used for data entry and program control. Fields mapped in this way are then assembled into a complete map, which can include line drawings as well as up to 20 landmark types. The coordinate values of all landmarks mapped are stored and remain accessible for editing and analysis. High resolution plots are produced. Specialized functions include grain counting, area and perimeter calculations as well as a perimeter limiter that predefines the area to be mapped. The system uses general purpose hardware that is widely available. Many hitherto time-consuming tasks, such as detailed mapping of cell positions, regions of immunocytochemical staining, degenerating fibers, neuronal connections or any other anatomical feature, can be done in a fraction of the time and effort previously involved. These labor savings can be realized while maintaining the highest resolution and enabling statistical analysis since the data are already in digital form.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Canaries
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Microcomputers*
  • Microscopy*
  • Software