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Now in our 13th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

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27 November 2017

Brain and Shine

Trillions of connections between millions of neurons, processing an uncountable number of signals every second – thinking about the brain is enough to make your head hurt. Yet making sense of its complexities remains the dream of neuroscience. This 3D map of a mouse brain, part of the MouseLight project, shows neurons arranged in complex patterns, stretching their spindly branches, known as axons, across different brain regions. A bit like archaeologists revealing ancient artefacts layer by layer, researchers used sensitive microscopy to pick out fluorescence in genetically modified neurons on the brain’s surface, before shaving away a thin slice of the brain and repeating the process hundreds of times. A 3D picture of each neuron emerges. So far 300 cells are mapped – information that is free to access and will grow as more neurons are added to this dizzying puzzle of 70 million pieces.

Written by John Ankers

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What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.