- Studies of the numerical density of microscopic items in brain tissue is a time-consuming endeavor. However, such information is important for numerous issues such as the relationship between structure and function in the normal brain, individual differences, and studies of brains of neuropsychiatric patients. A computer-assisted imaging system specifically devised to obtain estimates of numerical densities in human cortex is described here. Its main advantage is that the microscopist can analyze the original image directly under the microscope, and most aspects of data acquisition and quantitative analysis are accomplished by the computer. The key features of the system are a Microvid (an electronic camera lucida) and the use of X, Y, and Z stage encoders in conjunction with three-dimensional computer software. The complete system is relatively inexpensive and is simple to set up and use. The reliability and validity of the numerical densities obtained using this system are documented.