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Cerebellar Purkinje neurons, 2003.

This photomicrograph shows a portion of the


cerebellum in which only one type of neuron its Purkinje cells has been illuminated by
a genetically encoded fluorescent protein; meanwhile, other classes of neighboring neurons
that would have clouded the view have been left invisible.

Spiny neuron, 2009. Electron microscopy grants researchers and clinicians access to a
universe that is too small to be detected using light-based microscopes. This photomicrograph
was obtained by scanning a beam of electrons across the sample while a detector kept track of
electrons bouncing off its surface, betraying the specimen's outer shape. It shows a soma with
dendrites radiating from it.

Chick retina, 2008. This photomicrograph of a chick's retina was produced using an antibody
staining, which harnesses the exquisite precision and sensitivity of antibodies to recognize
specific biological molecules. At the top of the image are the retina's photoreceptor cells (in
gray) the familiar rods and cones that capture photons of light and translate them into
electrical signals that the brain can understand.

Rabies, 2005. Francis Crick, who turned his attention to neuroscience after his seminal work
on the structure of DNA, once wrote that a critical tool the field was still lacking was "a
technique for injecting a single neuron in such a way that all the neurons connected to it (and
only those) are labeled." Recently, a group of scientists have transformed the rabies virus into
a tool to accomplish just this by harnessing the virus's lethally efficient natural
mechanisms and turning it around to address Crick's challenge. Here, his single neuron is in
red and the ones connected to it are in yellow.

Subnetwork, 1995. This image shows a single neuron's soma and dendrites (at center,
orange) and the dense branches of its axon (yellow). The latter spreads throughout a
considerable portion of a rodent's hippocampus (an area implicated in learning and memory)
and shuttles this neuron's information to thousands of others. The blue background reflects a
staining of many neighboring neurons, revealing the overall structure of this brain region.

Cerebellum, 2007. The brain's neurons are small, convoluted and very densely packed. This
makes it exceedingly difficult to tell neighbors apart from one another, and then understand
how they are connected to each other. In this micrograph, individual colors are bestowed to
adjacent cells. Here we see the endings of axons in the cerebellum, called rosettes because of
their flowerlike appearance.

Spiny neuron, 2009. This is a photomicrograph of many axons (issued from neurons growing
in a dish). The swellings that bud off of them, called presynaptic boutons, form one half of the
synapse the connection between two neurons.

Neocortex, 2007. This photomicrograph zooms in on a small portion of the neocortex, the
outer layer of the brain, to reveal horizontal layers. Behind the colorful somata in the
foreground, a pattern of light and dark in the background suggests anatomical distinctions.

Basic organization of the human visual cortex, 2009. Data from a functional M.R.I.,
obtained in a live human subject, illustrate the basic organization of our primary visual cortex,
in which neighboring points in a visual scene are mapped to neighboring points on the brain.
Visual stimuli far from the center of the gaze are processed in the areas colored dark blue,
while visual stimuli in the center of the gaze are processed in the areas colored purple.