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Imaging of the brain's pial arteries made possible using ultra-high-resolution angiography

25 June 2022

Catching the Flow

Your memories, perception and thoughts all exist in your neocortex, grooved tissue that comprises over three-quarters of your brain. Its only blood supply comes from the pial arterial vasculature, a network of tiny blood vessels that are difficult to image in detail. Although blood vessels have been successfully imaged at high resolution using live, time-of-flight magnetic resonance angiography (TOF-MRA) – an approach that detects the flow of water protons in blood – it was ruled out for pial arteries due to their slow blood flow; until now. Researchers successfully imaged the pial arteries of four adults with TOF-MRA by using extremely small voxels – voxels are the 3D equivalent of pixels and refer to cubes of space. The resulting high-resolution images (pictured) captured pial arteries down to one voxel in diameter. TOF-MRA, therefore, wasn't limited by slow blood flow but by image resolution and can now be used in pial vasculature studies.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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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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