Ultrastructural analyses with electron microscopy have provided indispensable information to understand physiology and pathology of the nervous system. Recent advancement in imagingmethodology paved theway for complete reconstruction of the neuronal connection map in the central nervous system, which is termed ‘connectome’ and would provide key insights to understand the functions of the brain. The critical advancement includes serial ultrastructural observation with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) instead of conventional serial sectioning transmission electron microscopy along with specific tissue preparation methods to increase heavy metal deposition for efficient SEM imaging. The advanced imaging methods using SEM have distinct advantages and disadvantages in multiple aspects, such as resolution and imaging speed, and should be selected depending on the observation conditions, such as target tissue sizes, required spatial resolution and necessity for re-observation. Dealing with the huge dataset remained to be a major obstacle, and automation in segmentation and 3D reconstruction would be critical to understand neuronal circuits in a larger volume of the brain. Future improvement in acquisition and analyses of the morphological data obtained with the advanced SEM imaging is awaited to elucidate the significance of whole connectome as the structural basis of the consciousness, intelligence andmemory of a subject.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Structural Biology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging