Optical Imaging of Neural and Hemodynamic Brain Activity
Schei, Jennifer Lynn
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Optical imaging technologies can be used to record neural and hemodynamic activity. Neural activity elicits physiological changes that alter the optical tissue properties. Specifically, changes in polarized light are concomitant with neural depolarization. We measured polarization changes from an isolated lobster nerve during action potential propagation using both reflected and transmitted light. In transmission mode, polarization changes were largest throughout the center of the nerve, suggesting that most of the optical signal arose from the inner nerve bundle. In reflection mode, polarization changes were largest near the edges, suggesting that most of the optical signal arose from the outer sheath. To overcome irregular cell orientation found in the brain, we measured polarization changes from a nerve tied in a knot. Our results show that neural activation produces polarization changes that can be imaged even without regular cell orientations. Neural activation expends energy resources and elicits metabolic delivery through blood vessel dilation, increasing blood flow and volume. We used spectroscopic imaging techniques combined with electrophysiological measurements to record evoked neural and hemodynamic responses from the auditory cortex of the rat. By using implantable optics, we measured responses across natural wake and sleep states, as well as responses following different amounts of sleep deprivation. During quiet sleep, evoked metabolic responses were larger compared to wake, perhaps because blood vessels were more compliant. When animals were sleep deprived, evoked hemodynamic responses were smaller following longer periods of deprivation. These results suggest that prolonged neural activity through sleep deprivation may diminish vascular compliance as indicated by the blunted vascular response. Subsequent sleep may allow vessels to relax, restoring their ability to deliver blood. These results also suggest that severe sleep deprivation or chronic sleep disturbances could push the vasculature to critical limits, leading to metabolic deficit and the potential for tissue trauma.