Dana H. Simmons is a graduate student at The University of Chicago, where she studies cerebellar physiology. The principle type of neuron in the cerebellum, the Purkinje neuron, is perhaps the most branched type of neuron in the nervous system. While performing confocal calcium imaging experiments, Dana was struck by the beauty of the Purkinje neurons’ complex dendritic branching. Inspired by the repeated appearance of this “Purkinje Pattern,” or branched structure, throughout microscopic and macroscopic nature (e.g., trees, rivers, coral, antlers, blood vessel networks, decision diagrams), Dana began to utilize the confocal microscope and lasers to highlight the Purkinje cell’s dendrites, and the textured tissue in which it lies. Dana has created a collection of Purkinje neuron images that highlight the beauty of entire Purkinje neurons with a single laser (Figure 1) and with added white light (Figure 2). Additionally, she has created a series of images that focus specifically on the dendritic branches (Figure 3). In several images, it is possible to view the glass micropipettes used to fill the Purkinje neuron with dye via whole cell patch clamp electrophysiology (Figure 4). Dana’s goal with her science-based art is to inspire curiosity and encourage discussion about neuroscience.
Thanks to the members of the Hansel Lab.
Conflict of Interest: The author has no conflicts of interest to declare.