An Observatory for the (Mouse) Brain

Guest post by Kayt Sukel 

Jérôme Lecoq prepares the OpenScope rig

Jérôme Lecoq prepares the OpenScope rig for an experiment. Image courtesy of Allen Institute for Brain Science

Any classic Star Trek fan worth their salt can easily summon the opening line for this beloved television show: “Space, the Final Frontier…” Now, the Allen Institute for Brain Science is trying to boldly go where no man—or lab—has gone before. It has announced OpenScope, a shared experimental program inviting neuroscientists around the globe to suggest studies and reap results using the Allen Brain Observatory, a standardized in vivo two-photon calcium imaging platform that investigates mouse visual cortex at the cellular level.

The project was inspired by astronomy observatories that share expensive equipment to help further advances in the field, says Jérôme Lecoq, Ph.D., senior manager of optical physiology at the Allen Institute. He and his colleagues consulted with researchers at the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii to better understand how they share resources successfully.

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