Scientists used SLAP to capture video of glutamate release in mouse dendrites in vivo. Dendrites are labeled with the glutamate sensor iGluSnFR.A184V. 

ABOVE: The SLAP Microscope system

A new tool called Scanned Line Angular Projection microscopy, or SLAP, enables scientists to record neural activity patterns in the mouse visual cortex, millisecond-by-millisecond, researchers reported July 29 in Nature Methods

Conventional light microscopy cannot pierce through the dense wrinkles of a living brain, and classic two-photon microscopy takes nanoseconds to process each pixel in a single still image. Creating videos requires researchers to take measurements from every pixel in every frame, and that time adds up quickly. “You’d think that’d be a fundamental [speed] limit—the number of pixels multiplied by the minimum time per pixel. But we’ve broken this limit by compressing the measurements,” says coauthor Kaspar Podgorski, a neuroscientist and cognitive...

SLAP works by probing tissue samples with flat planes of light and compressing data from many pixels into a single measurement. Computer algorithms then decompress the data, allowing scientists to render high-resolution videos of brain activity. 

A. Kazemipour et al., “Kilohertz frame-rate two-photon tomography,” doi:10.1038/s41592-019-0493-9, Nature Methods, 2019.

Nicoletta Lanese is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at

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