A graphics-oriented personal computer-based microscope charting system for neuroanatomical and neurochemical studies

W. G. Tourtellote*, D. T. Lawrence, P. A. Getting, G. W. Van Hoesen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


This report describes a computerized microscope charting system based on the IBM personal computer or compatible. Stepping motors are used to control the movement of the microscope stage and to encode its position by hand manipulation of a joystick. Tissue section contours and the location of cells labeled with various compounds are stored by the computer, plotted at any magnification and manipulated into composites created from several charted sections. The system has many advantages: (1) it is based on an industry standardized computer that is affordable and familiar; (2) compact and commercially available stepping motor microprocessors control the stage movement. These controllers increase reliability, simplify implementation, and increase efficiency by relieving the computer of time consuming control tasks; (3) the system has an interactive graphics interface allowing the operator to view the image during data collection. Regions of the graphics display can be enlarged during the charting process to provide higher resolution and increased accuracy; (4) finally, the digitized data are stored at 0.5 μm resolution and can be routed directly to a multi-pen plotter or exported to a computer-aided design (CAD) program to generate a publication-quality montage composed of several computerized chartings. The system provides a useful tool for the acquisition and qualitative analysis of data representing stained cells or chemical markers in tissue. The modular design, together with data storage at high resolution, allows for potential analytical enhancements involving planimetric, stereologic and 3-D serial section reconstruction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-57
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1989


  • Cell counting
  • Computer graphic
  • Computer microscope
  • Computer pantograph
  • Image analysis
  • Spatial mapping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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