The Image Analysis Core Facility provides investigators with modern resources for analyzing neuronal morphology. There are three workstations currently in use:
- Computer-assisted Microscopy Workstation
- Microscopy Imaging Workstation (for photography and image analysis)
- Video Imaging Workstation (for large specimens)
The most heavily used equipment is the computer-assisted microscopy workstation, which is used to reconstruct neuronal arbors in 3-dimensions and to map the location of cells and arbors within large brain sections. The workstation is composed of a Zeiss Axioskop microscope equipped for bright field, dark field and epifluorescence illumination. In addition, the microscope is equipped with a miniature computer monitor that is connected to the microscope through a drawing tube attachment (Lucivid from MicroBrightfield). The digital representation of the structure is encoded by a computer-controlled motorized stage and focus control. The software package used to control this workstation is Neurolucida, which runs on a Gateway 2000 Pentium 100 computer. The microscopy imaging workstation is a fully configured Zeiss Axiophot microscope equipped for bright field, dark field and epifluorescence illumination as well as differential interference contrast (Nomarski) optics. Four cameras can be mounted at once on the microscope: one video camera, two 35-mm film cameras, and one 4×5-film camera. Two video cameras are available, a Dage-MTI Model 72 CCD camera for normal use and a Dage-MTI Model 66 SIT camera for low light levels (e.g. fluorescence). Currently, images are captured by Snappy, a frame grabber (Play, Inc.) attached to the Gateway 2000 computer. Images are analyzed using UTHSCSA Image Tool and the Image Processing Tool Kit The video imaging workstation is used to image experimental specimens that are too large to be visualized through a microscope (e.g. rat brain sections, electrophoretic gels, photomontages, etc.) The Dage CCD camera is mounted on a copy stand and the specimen is illuminated from above or through a light box. Images from the camera are captured with a Hewlett-Packard Vectra RS/20 equipped with a Bravado 16 multimedia video board (Truevision, Inc.). We recommend that images be transferred to another computer for processing with freely available image processing software such as NIH Image (Mac) or UTHSCSA Image Tool (Windows 95/NT). Alternatively, the Neurolucida software can be used in a video overlay mode for cell drawing and mapping as described above. Use of the facility requires payment of an annual maintenance fee, which varies from year to year. An initial consultation is available at no charge, no other services are offered.