Optical MDT

The University of Minnesota's Medical Discovery Team (MDT) on Optical Imaging and Brain Science is a multi-disciplinary effort focused on mapping the detailed circuits that underlie sensation, perception and complex behaviors in the developing and mature brain. State-of-the-art optical imaging and optical stimulation techniques that provide sub-micron spatial resolution will be used in experimental model systems of health, injury and disease. These techniques include two-photon and three-photon imaging and holographic stimulation of individual cells using two-photon optogenetics. Recent advances in optics help preserve the high spatial resolution even when examining multiple brain regions simultaneously. Thus, the activity from large ensembles of cells will provide near complete wiring diagrams underlying specific behaviors in the healthy brain as well as in diseases such as Alzheimer's, epilepsy, autism, stroke, and vascular dementia. Moreover, to create synergy across the MDT’s, researchers in the Optical Imaging MDT may collaborate and lend their technologies to the Addiction MDT and the Nikon University Imaging Center (UIC) core facilitates.


A close-up of brain scans
About Us

Optical imaging via multi-photon microscopy can measure activity-dependent changes in fluorescent signals directly from individual neurons, astrocytes and blood vessels in the living brain.

UMN Research

By working together with the Optical Engineers employed collectively by the MDT, the Smith Lab (Gordon Smith) constructed a novel optogenetic microscope capable of all-optical interrogation of brain networks at the columnar scale.

Ways to Engage

Learn more about how we engage with the community through internships, research programs and our Seminar Speaker series.

Our Goal

To produce a dynamic blueprint of the functioning brain using new methods for large-scale monitoring and interrogation of neural activity. This goal is well-aligned with a newly-established federal program: Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neuro-technologies (BRAIN) Initiative, which is aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain.  Some of our MDT members have already received grants from this highly competitive program.