Jun.21, 2013 | By Geraldine Bouvry

Imagine a puzzle, consisting of more than 7 400 sections. Kind of a brainteaser, isn't it? This is what a team of scientists worked on. And a brainteaser, surely it must have been considering that this puzzle is a 3D microscopic model of the human brain, at nearly cellular resolution, the first ever accomplished at this scale. Indeed, up to now, all referenced brains have only provided information at macroscopic scale.

The Research Centre Jülich, in Germany, and the Mc Gill University, in Canada, teamed up for this project, so-called Big Brain. After ten years of work, it has just ended with the publication of the study on June 20th, in the magazine Science.

This project is also part of the European Brain Project.

Back to the start of the project, there is a brain, a real one, preserved and coming from a 65-year-old woman. The team of scientists sliced the brain into 7,400 sections, each one of them being 20 microns thick, which is smaller than the size of one fine strand of hair and 250 000 times more detailed than current MRI brain scans! Last, all slices were digitized using a high-resolution flatbed 3D scanner. 

Commenting about the Big Brain project, senior author Dr. Alan Evans, professor at the Montreal Neurological Institute at Mc Gill University in Montréal, Canada, said that the project "has been a tour-de-force to assemble images of over 7,400 individual histological sections, each with its own distortions, rips and tears, into a coherent 3D volume." Adding that "this dataset allows - for the first time - a 3D exploration of human cytoarchitectural anatomy."

Two hundred areas have been documented through Big Brain, corresponding to roughly 70 % of the human brain. This new anatomical tool will work as an atlas for neurosurgery and help researchers better understand brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's, but also processes such as cognition and emotions work.

Important to highlight that Big Brain's findings are publicly accessible online, for free. Check the following links here and here (account requested).


Source: Jülich Institute


Posted in 3D Scanning



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Jeremy wrote at 6/24/2013 4:45:30 PM:

This is beyond epic. Keep up the awesome work and even after 3D and 4D scanners are available in every handheld mobile device and cell phone, never stop innovating.

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