The reconstruction of the human brain, called "Big Brain," shows its anatomy in microscopic detail and will be made freely available to neuroscientists for research.
Scientists have developed the world’s first high-resolution 3D digital model of the human brain.
The reconstruction of the human brain shows its anatomy in microscopic detail, enabling researchers to see features smaller than a strand of hair.
The “Big Brain” will be made freely available to neuroscientists to help them in their research, BBC News reported.
Researchers sliced 7,400 sections from the brain of a deceased 65-year-old woman, each half the thickness of a human hair.
They then stained each slice to bring out the anatomical detail and scanned them into the computer in high definition.
The final step was to reassemble the scanned slices inside the computer. In all, 80 billion neurons have been captured in this painstaking process which took 10 years to complete.
"It was like using Google Earth. You can see details that are not visible before we had this 3D reconstruction,” said Professor Katrin Amunts from the Julich Research Centre in Germany, one of the researchers involved.
Professor Paul Fletcher, a psychiatrist at Cambridge University, is scanning the brains of patients to learn more about eating disorders.
He said Big Brain goes a “step further” than the best scans he can obtain by enabling him to see details at the level at which brain computations take place.
“We will be able to study the responses seen in people and map it on to an atlas that goes close to the individual layers of the brain’s cortex, to the very cells themselves,” said Prof. Fletcher.