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- Biological specimens introduce wavefront aberrations and deteriorate the image quality of optical microscopy.
- Adaptive optics is used in optical microscopy to recover ideal imaging performance.
- Adaptive optical imaging improves structural imaging of neurons, allowing for synaptic-level resolution at depth.
- Adaptive optical imaging leads to a more accurate characterization of the functional properties of neurons.
With the ability to correct for the aberrations introduced by biological specimens, adaptive optics—a method originally developed for astronomical telescopes—has been applied to optical microscopy to recover diffraction-limited imaging performance deep within living tissue. In particular, this technology has been used to improve image quality and provide a more accurate characterization of both structure and function of neurons in a variety of living organisms. Among its many highlights, adaptive optical microscopy has made it possible to image large volumes with diffraction-limited resolution in zebrafish larval brains, to resolve dendritic spines over 600μm deep in the mouse brain, and to more accurately characterize the orientation tuning properties of thalamic boutons in the primary visual cortex of awake mice.