Course Description and Goals
The goal of the workshop is to teach a small group of research scientists how to design, supervise, and critically evaluate stereological studies of the nervous system. Stereology is a methodology that provides meaningful quantitative descriptions of the geometry of three-dimensional structures from measurements that are made on two-dimensional images sampled from a structure of interest. The workshop will emphasize modern ”design based” stereology, which is characterized by the preparation and probing of tissue in such a manner that no assumptions about the size, shape, and orientation of the structures being quantified are necessary.
Unlike previously available methods, these newer methods produce accurate and robust estimates of total quantities, such as number, length, area and volume. Because of the enhanced power of the data obtained with these methods, they have recently made important contributions to our understanding of the changes in the structure of the brain related to aging and disease and are rapidly becoming the standards required by journals and granting agencies.
The mathematical basis and practical application of these methods will be presented through a series of lectures, practical exercises, demonstrations, and critical evaluations of individual projects. Particular emphasis will be placed on design based, stereological methods that have particular relevance to the study of the nervous system, such as estimates of: 1) the numbers of neurons and synapses, and the volumes of brain regions, layers; 2) the volumes of individual cells and pathological entities.
The target audience includes neuroscience research scientists working at the graduate student, post-doctoral, and senior scientists who are interested in the practical application of design based stereological methods. The number of participants will be limited to 30, to ensure robust faculty-student interaction.