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The brain is the most intricate, energetically active, and plastic organ in the body. These features extend to its cellular elements, the neurons and glia. Understanding neurons, or nerve cells, at the cellular and molecular levels is the cornerstone of modern neuroscience. The complexities of neuron structure and function require unusual methods of culture(More)
We present spatial light interference microscopy (SLIM) as a new optical microscopy technique, capable of measuring nanoscale structures and dynamics in live cells via interferometry. SLIM combines two classic ideas in light imaging: Zernike's phase contrast microscopy, which renders high contrast intensity images of transparent specimens, and Gabor's(More)
Microfluidic devices have been used to study high-density cultures of many cell types. Because cell-to-cell signaling is local, however, there exists a need to develop culture systems that sustain small numbers of neurons and enable analyses of the microenvironments. Such cultures are hard to maintain in stable form, and it is difficult to prevent cell(More)
The mammalian supraoptic nucleus (SON) is a neuroendocrine center in the brain regulating a variety of physiological functions. Within the SON, peptidergic magnocellular neurons that project to the neurohypophysis (posterior pituitary) are involved in controlling osmotic balance, lactation, and parturition, partly through secretion of signaling peptides(More)
Genomic and proteomic studies of brain regions of specialized function provide evidence that communication among neurons is mediated by systems of diverse chemical messengers. These analyses are largely tissue- or population-based, whereas the actual communication is from cell-to-cell. To understand the complement of intercellular signals produced by(More)
Wiring the nervous system relies on the interplay of intrinsic and extrinsic signaling molecules that control neurite extension, neuronal polarity, process maturation and experience-dependent refinement. Extrinsic signals establish and enrich neuron-neuron interactions during development. Understanding how such extrinsic cues direct neurons to establish(More)
Spatial light interference microscopy (SLIM) is a novel method developed in our laboratory that provides quantitative phase images of transparent structures with a 0.3 nm spatial and 0.03 nm temporal accuracy owing to the white light illumination and its common path interferometric geometry. We exploit these features and demonstrate SLIM's ability to(More)
The nervous system is a complex, highly-ordered, integrated network of cells. Dispersed cultures of neurons enable investigations into intrinsic cellular functions without the complexities inherent in the intact nervous system. This culture process generates a homogeneously dispersed population that is assumed to be spatially random. Despite the vast number(More)
Understanding the signals that guide neuronal development and direct formation of axons, dendrites, and synapses during wiring of the brain is a fundamental challenge in developmental neuroscience. Discovery of how local signals shape developing neurons has been impeded by the inability of conventional culture methods to interrogate microenvironments of(More)
Mammalian cells are sensitive to the physical properties of their micro-environment such as the stiffness and geometry of the substrate. It is known that the stiffness of the substrate plays a key role in the process of mammalian myogenesis. However, the effect of geometrical constraints on the process of myogenic differentiation needs to be explored(More)