A new resource will allow scientists to explore the anatomy of a single brain in three dimensions at far greater detail than before, with tremendous potential to guide the quest to map brain activity in humans. Dubbed the BigBrain, the resource came out of the European Human Brain Project funded earlier this year. BigBrain is freely available online for scientific use.
Using MRI, researchers at the Research Centre Jülich and the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf in Germany, imaged the brain of a healthy, deceased 65-year old woman and then embedded it in wax. After sectioning the 7,400 pieces – each only 20 micrometers thick – the researchers completed the painstaking process of imaging the sections and staining cell bodies.
After removing all digital anomalies, the researchers assembled the sections to create the final 3D image. Just one of a number of brain initiatives worldwide, BigBrain provides 50 times more detailed than previous maps – which will undoubtedly lay the foundations for future research.
- Amber Harmon