Anisoplanatic adaptive optics in parallelized laser scanning microscopy

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Inhomogeneities in the refractive index of a biological microscopy sample can introduce phase aberrations, severely impairing the quality of images. Adaptive optics can be employed to correct for phase aberrations and improve image quality. However, conventional adaptive optics can only correct a single phase aberration for the whole field of view (isoplanatic correction) while, due to the highly heterogeneous nature of biological tissues, the sample induced aberrations in microscopy often vary throughout the field of view (anisoplanatic aberration), limiting significantly the effectiveness of adaptive optics. This paper reports on a new approach for aberration correction in laser scanning confocal microscopy, in which a spatial light modulator is used to generate multiple excitation points in the sample to simultaneously scan different portions of the field of view with completely independent correction, achieving anisoplanatic compensation of sample induced aberrations, in a significantly shorter time compared to sequential isoplanatic correction of multiple image subregions. The method was tested in whole Drosophila brains and in larval Zebrafish, each showing a dramatic improvement in resolution and sharpness when compared to conventional isoplanatic adaptive optics.