Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Distant Brain
12 November 2017

Distant Brain

Imagine you’re floating above the world watching a storm. Zooming in, but not quite as far as the individual clouds, you’ll find mesoscale weather – breezes and currents that need this specific perspective to spot. The same is true with brains. Here, a technique called X-ray microtomography fires blasts of high-energy radiation at sections of a mouse brain, revealing mesoscale details. Zoomed out from the microscopic view of individual cells, we see blood vessels (top, red) and the overall landscape of brain cells (superimposed in blue, bottom) at the same time. This gives a different perspective on how the brain controls certain behaviours – hand motion, for example, requires signals between hundreds of neurons, which could be missed by a closer 'zoom'. A future mesoscale model of the entire brain will likely reveal more details lost by looking too closely.

Written by John Ankers

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