Celebrating 50 years of Computer Microscopy (1963 – 2013) Part II: The Impact of the Computer Microscope on Neuroanatomical Analysis

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Overall view of the  computer microscope developed by Drs. van der Loos and Glaser (circa 1965).

Prior to the computer microscope era, quantitative neuro-anatomical studies were performed using the camera lucida method, an optical method allowing the scientist to see the neurons as if reflected on the piece of paper on which she will trace. These studies were painstaking and extremely time-consuming. Van der Loos and Glaser’s computer microscope was truly groundbreaking  in that it reduced analysis times dramatically, from twenty-four hours with the camera lucida and hand calculation techniques, to only thirty minutes with the computer microscope. Accuracy was also greatly improved thanks to accurate distance measurements in all three coordinate axes. Continue reading “Celebrating 50 years of Computer Microscopy (1963 – 2013) Part II: The Impact of the Computer Microscope on Neuroanatomical Analysis” »

Celebrating 50 Years of the Computer Microscope (1963-2013) – Part I: The First Semi-Automatic System for Neuroanatomical Analysis

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Original figures published with permission from Dr. Ed Glaser

In 1963, Dr. Ed Glaser (co-founder of MBF Bioscience) and Dr. Hendrik van der Loos were at the John Hopkins Medical School putting the final touches on the first computer microscope, an analog computer connected to a light microscope. It was described as a system for attaching X-Y-Z transducers to a microscope stage, tracing the branches of a Golgi-stained neuron and outputting the result to a plotter (learn more about the origins of Neurolucida). The microscope stage was equipped with high-linearity linear motion transducers yielding output voltages proportional to the position of the microscope stage in all three dimensions. The computation of distances was performed by using a chord approximation to the curvilinear dendrites whose lengths were to be determined. Continue reading “Celebrating 50 Years of the Computer Microscope (1963-2013) — Part I: The First Semi-Automatic System for Neuroanatomical Analysis” »