Molecular Medicine Israel

The Human Brain in Exquisite Detail

Scientists create BigBrain—an ultrahigh resolution 3–D model of the human think-box

More than 7,400 20-µm-thick slices of human brain tissue have been painstakingly stitched together into the most in-depth model of the organ ever built, exceeding the resolution of previous models “by a factor of 50 in each direction,” study leader Katrin Amunts of the Jülich Aachen Research Alliance in Germany, told The Scientist.

The so-called BigBrain model could serve as an essential research tool for a variety of neuroscience questions, including the exploration of cell density and morphology across the entire cortex and studies of neuronal activity within specific brain regions.

“It allows observation down into the cytoarchitectural level in a comprehensive way, which really hasn’t been done before,” said Arthur Toga, director of the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the work. “That’s enormously valuable.”

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