Neurophotonics • Open AccessPhotoacoustic brain imaging: from microscopic to macroscopic scales
Human brain mapping has become one of the most exciting contemporary research areas, with major breakthroughs expected in the coming decades. Modern brain imaging techniques have allowed neuroscientists to gather a wealth of anatomic and functional information about the brain. Among these techniques, by virtue of its rich optical absorption contrast, high spatial and temporal resolutions, and deep penetration, photoacoustic tomography (PAT) has attracted more and more attention, and is playing an increasingly important role in brain studies. In particular, PAT complements other brain imaging modalities by providing high-resolution functional and metabolic imaging. More importantly, PAT’s unique scalability enables scrutinizing the brain at both microscopic and macroscopic scales, using the same imaging contrast. In this review, we present the state-of-the-art PAT techniques for brain imaging, summarize representative neuroscience applications, outline the technical challenges in translating PAT to human brain imaging, and envision potential technological deliverables.