Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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The Bigger Picture
29 August 2017

The Bigger Picture

A hundred billion nerve cells packed into a space just over a litre in volume – that’s the human brain. Cracking the puzzle of how this complex organ works involves unravelling how these nerve cells are connected together. Researchers took steps towards solving this problem by improving upon an imaging technique called FIB-SEM. This type of microscopy allows 3D images of a tissue to be captured. However it takes quite a long time and can only be carried out in short bursts. Researchers therefore enhanced multiple aspects of this technique to make it faster and more reliable. Larger tissue volumes could then be captured, such as a big section of the fruit fly brain (pictured) – a common model for studying brain development and function. The detail revealed allowed researchers to identify over 90 per cent of the connections between nerve cells and shows promise for future studies of the brain.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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