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Head Scratching

First brain map bringing together cell and tissue architecture using microscopy and MRI

22 May 2022

Head Scratching

“Get those synapses firing”, “test your grey matter” – the idioms may be tired, but understanding what’s going on inside our noggins is full of fresh challenges. While scientists often use MRI to trace out brain structures, and microscopy to zoom in on its cells – here they bring everything together. Shaving thin slices off a human brain, they use microscopy to highlight blood vessels in each slice (in red). Next, through careful comparison with MRI scans, they pull the images back together like a sliced loaf in a bag, reassembling the brain as a virtual 3D model. The result is a ‘mesoscopic’ view – highly-detailed but also zoomed out far enough to take in the entire vasculature. The team presents this model, and others looking at different brain tissues, as public resource – helping scientists old and new appreciate the brain from fresh perspectives, towards solving future mysteries in neurodegenerative disease.

Written by John Ankers

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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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