Packed into each of our brains are roughly a hundred billion nerve cells. Each one can connect up to as many as 7000 other nerve cells at sites called synapses. It’s therefore no wonder that the task of studying billions of nerve cells with trillions of synapses is rather tricky. To see the wood from the trees very powerful microscopy techniques are needed, such as stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM). Nerve cells are often comprised of very long extensions that weave in and out of each other, much like strings of spaghetti in a bowl. Applying STORM in 3D allows these stringy cells to be traced through the long and winding routes they travel. In the STORM image pictured the changes in colour reflect how deep into the sample the nerve cells have delved.
Written by Lux Fatimathas
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (the new name for the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre) the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.