Big Thanks to Big Brain

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The BigBrain project shows the brain anatomy in microscopic detail (at a resolution of 20 microns – smaller than the size of one fine strand of hair). Until recently, reference brains did not probe further than the macroscopic, or visible, components of the brain.

This project was developed in collaboration between an international team of researchers from Germany and Canada. This team is involved in whole lot of work. In terms of size, it is a huge 10-year project that was constructed from individual scans of 7,400 slices of a single human brain. It is also said that this project will be able to assist scientists learn more about our mind. The project took a 65-year-old woman’s brain and cut it into slices just 20 micrometres thick, shows the brain’s anatomy in microscopic detail, almost down to a cellular level.

Science‘s senior editor Peter Stern says that – The spatial resolution exceeds that of presently available reference brains by a factor of 50 in each of the three spatial dimensions. It is the first 3D  microstructural model of the entire human brain, and is free and publicly available. How will BigBrain help us? Here are the glimpses:

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  • It can be used to integrate and correlate data from various fields like genetics, molecular neuroscience, electrophysiology, etc.
  • It will help a great deal in computational modelling for simulation of brain functions.
  • BigBrain will vastly improve in the interpretation of MRI and PET.

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And many more.

The project BigBrain will make the study of brain as simple as an act of zooming in and reaching the cellular level. The brain is considered the most complex structure with 86 billion neurons, this zooming in may not be so effective though – but anyone who understands this complexity will agree that this is a milestone in the journey to understand life.

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