Spatial light modulators for complex spatio-temporal illumination of neuronal networks.

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  • 04 April 2012
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The introduction of fluorescent probes, light sensitive molecules  and the recent development of optogenetics are tremendously  contributing to our understanding of neuronal circuit function. In parallel with the development of these optical tools, new  technologies for the illumination of neural tissue with complex spatio-temporal patterns have been introduced. Here we describe a method for generating spatially-modulated illumination by using  Liquid Crystal On Silicon Spatial Light Modulators (LCOS-SLMs).  The theoretical background and the description of the working  principles of LCOS-SLMs are presented together with a detailed experimental procedure to install LCOS-SLMs on conventional  two-photon laser scanning microscopes and perform experiments on neuronal cells. In combination with the development of light-sensitive proteins with cell-specific and subcellularly-localized  expression, this technical approach has the potential to open new horizons for the optical investigation of neuronal circuits.