A noninvasive, fast method for detecting neuronal activity without cytotoxic agents would be a valuable research tool. Changes in optical birefringence, caused by propagating action potentials, occur intrinsically in axons as a direct result of changes in the local electric field across axonal membranes. Previously, these changes have been imaged through averaging of repeated trials in organized neuronal tissues, such as nerve fibers. Here we demonstrate imaging of nerve impulse propagation in real-time in the lobster walking leg nerve, by utilizing a linear photodiode array. This work provides a path toward monitoring peripheral nerve recovery and neuronal spike activity noninvasively.
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