The new Firefly microscope is optimized to perform optogenetic studies examining many neurons at once. Each bright spot here represents a neuron from a genetically modified mouse. [Credit: Vaibhav Joshi, Harvard University]
A newly developed microscope is providing scientists with a greatly enhanced tool to study how neurological disorders such as epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease affect neuron communication. The microscope is optimized to perform studies using optogenetic techniques, a relatively new technology that uses light to control and image neurons genetically modified with light-sensitive proteins.