as-PSOCT: Volumetric microscopic imaging of human brain architecture and connectivity

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Polarization sensitive optical coherence tomography (PSOCT) with serial sectioning has enabled the investigation of 3D structures in mouse and human brain tissue samples. By using intrinsic optical properties of back-scattering and birefringence, PSOCT reliably images cytoarchitecture, myeloarchitecture and fiber orientations. In this study, we developed a fully automatic serial sectioning polarization sensitive optical coherence tomography (as-PSOCT) system to enable volumetric reconstruction of human brain samples with unprecedented sample size and resolution. The 3.5 μm in-plane resolution and 50 μm through-plane voxel size allow inspection of cortical layers that are a single-cell in width, as well as small crossing fibers. We show the abilities of as-PSOCT in quantifying layer thicknesses of the cerebellar cortex and creating microscopic tractography of intricate fiber networks in the subcortical nuclei and internal capsule regions, all based on volumetric reconstructions. as-PSOCT provides a viable tool for studying quantitative cytoarchitecture and myeloarchitecture and mapping connectivity with microscopic resolution in the human brain.

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