Advanced optical imaging techniques used in neurobiology commonly employ fluorescent molecules for studying the structure and function of neural tissue. To obtain adequate spatio-temporal resolution, sophisticated scanning schemes are used to manage the excitation light going to and emission light coming from objects under observation. Although the fundamental principles of these techniques remain the same, such as scanning point illumination and point detection for confocal imaging, their physical implementation is the subject of technological advance, for example, the advent of inertia-free discontinuous scanning schemes. In general, the aims of these technological advances are to improve the spatio-temporal resolution of and/or reduce potential photodamage caused by optical imaging in live neural tissue. The number of recent advances in scanning methods indicates their increasing importance in imaging techniques. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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