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Laser systems offer new data concerning Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia

Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia are considered to be the most common brain disorders, which are the results of problems in cells containing parvalbumin protein that represents almost one-tenth of all brain cells, but relatively little is known about their operation. Recently researchers from the USA have started to study the principle of cell operation by stimulating mouse brains with laser systems.
Thus, a custom-built laser system has allowed the researchers from Washington University to find the connection among activity in specific inhibitory neural circuits, cerebral blood flow, and volume. The thing was fiber laser demonstrated that higher activity in particular inhibitory neural circuits decreases cerebral blood flow and volume while excitatory activity evokes blood flow and volume to increase.
Moreover, the researchers discovered unexpected changes in blood volume and flow during stimulation of cells including parvalbumin protein. The used laser technology is based on specially bred mice whose brains are stimulated with laser beam pulses.
The method of brain stimulation with light signals from the laser module, called optogenetics, has enlarged understanding of brain operation as well as the brain process of fear, sense of smell, and even the reason of drug addiction.
It should be noted that optogenetics technology with a fiber laser system is convenient, less invasive, repeatable and easy to use because this technique does not require to put any probes into mouse brains. The principle of laser technology operation is quite simple, the researchers hit the necessary area of the mouse brain with the red colored laser beam, therefore, a desired neural circuit is activated.
Herewith, more neurons are stimulated, more blood and oxygen are produced. At the same time, the use of the laser system enabled to find out the opposite response during the stimulation of parvalbumin-expressing cells. Such a connection between activity in specific neural populations and local changes in blood flow plays a crucial role in the reveal of blood supply regulation by the brain.
Finally, the fiber laser technology reveals that parvalbumin-expressing cells are able to pull back and fine-tune the blood supply in areas where they are activated. A separate laser system technology, called laser speckle contrasting imaging allowed researchers to measure the exact blood and oxygen levels that significantly reduced when parvalbumin cells were excited.
Also, it was found out that parvalbumin cells were the way to transmit messages to faraway parts of the brain to change their hemodynamics, or blood flow, as well. In fact, the information obtained by the laser system will provide a better understanding of parvalbumin’s role in neurovascular coupling, demonstrate its influence on brain development or the emergence of neurological disorders.
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