Abstract

Optical imaging of intrinsic signals detects neural activation patterns by taking video images of the local activity-related changes in the light intensity reflected from neural tissue (intrinsic signals). At red light (605 nm), these signals are caused mainly by local variations of the tissue absorption following deoxygenation of blood. We characterize the image generation process during optical imaging by Monte Carlo simulations of light propagation through a homogeneous model tissue equipped with a local absorber. Conventional video imaging and scanning laser imaging are compared. We find that, compared with video imaging, scanning laser techniques drastically increase both the contrast and the lateral resolution of optical recordings. Also, the maximum depth up to which the signals can be detected is increased by roughly a factor of 2 when scanning laser optical imaging is used. Further, the radial profile of the diffuse-reflectance pattern for each pixel is subject to changes that correlate with the depth of the absorber within the tissue. We suggest a detection geometry for the online measurement of these radial profiles that can be realized by modifying a standard scanning laser ophthalmoscope.

© 1999 Optical Society of America

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