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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Researchers Develop In-Depth 3D Imaging of the Brain


Researchers from Canada and Germany have created a detailed anatomical 3-D brain map of the brain. They used a 65 year-olds woman’s brain that was preserved, sliced into 7,400 pieces, and then photographed at a microscopic level. The detail is considered astounding allowing for near cellular level viewing. The model will be open to all researchers at the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine in Jülich, Germany. It will help foster greater understand of the typography of the brain and encourage higher integration of research.

With over 1,000 hours and 10 trillion bytes of information the brain map offers an opportunity to see how the biological parts worth together. Each crevice, bump and ridge was sliced and photographed to create the world’s most accurate model. Supercomputers then analyzed the results to develop computer generated models for researchers. 

Currently, researchers use MRI and CT scans to see the brain. The new model gives a stronger point of references with a higher level of detail. This has benefits in terms of explanation and comparison of mapping. The project is different than the BRAIN initiative promoted by President Barrack Obama. That project will focus more on neural connectivity of the brain and how it creates pathways. 

The results of the 3-D project are likely to be used in colleges where students will be able to view in-detail pictures of the brain for study. It is also likely to be a starting point for adding additional information that is found from other brain research. For example, if a new neural pathway is found it could be transposed onto the 3-D brain for visual purposes. 

The research was a natural progression of previous methods. Its detail is derived from improvement in technology even though the methodology is not new. However, such detail affords a greater understanding of how the brain works. With new research coming in the future from the BRAIN initiative it is expected that our understanding of how these few pounds of our body operates will improve.

Amunts, et. al. (2013). BigBrain: an ultrahigh-resolution 3D human brain model. Science, 340 (6139). Retrieved June 20th, 2013 from http://www.sciencemag.org/content/340/6139/1472 


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