The Thayer laboratory studies neurodegenerative processes. His group uses electrophysiological and optical techniques to measure ion currents, to image synaptic proteins and to record changes in intracellular calcium within single neurons grown in tissue culture. Synapses, the connections between nerve cells, are lost in many neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders. This research uses MSI for studies based on an automated synaptic imaging assay. The microscope-based system collects thousands of images of the synaptic connections that form between nerve cells grown in multi-well plates. These images require extensive processing, particularly a deconvolution step, that would be prohibitively slow without MSI processing. The high throughput assay is used to screen for synaptic toxicities (a potential indicator of adverse drug effects), to screen for neuroprotective drugs, and to examine mechanisms of active compounds.