The high speed neuron imaging camera is built to monitor the activity of neuron networks. A neuron network is a highly complex system, and gaining an understanding of how they process information may lead to many applications including the cure of brain diseases/disorders and even computer technologies. To capture the rapidly changing (10k Hz) signals from the neurons, a extremely high acquisition rate is required by the camera. The custom CMOS sensor developed at IBOIS is extremely sensitive; due to its high speed read out rate and randomly addressability enable us to build an imaging system capable of imaging the activity of multiple neurons. Besides the CMOS sensor, there is only a data acquisition card within the system. All the camera functionality is performed in software using LabVIEW.
The full frame rate of this system is 250 fps (this is currently limited by the data acquisition card, the camera can produce 4K fps) but its flexible design allows random pixel access, which enables us to monitor arbitrary regions of interest at 10,000 fps. The camera will allow these regions to be updated automatically, on the fly. Neurons therefore can be tracked as they drift slowly with time. Acquiring data only from the regions with activity also decreases the storage space requirement by two orders of magnitude or more.
The camera also implements two channel sampling. One channel is being exposed while the other channel is read out, so that signals will not be missed. Methods to improve the camera’s noise performance have been added including Correlated Double Sampling, ‘dark image reference’, and ‘live regions reference’.
In addition to monitoring neural activity, the camera will be applied to other applications, such as blood flow detection and particle tracking.