New technique creates rapid 3D images of the brain
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To understand how information flows and is used in the brain, scientists must map the structure of the neurons inside the brain and body, developing a sort of Google Earth view of the brain. We have seen several innovations in creating 3D images for commercial use, including an app that can create 3D images within Google Maps and a device that can turn a phone into a 3D camera. However, the imaging and processing techniques that are most commonly used for brain scans require decades to produce a complete map – longer than the timespan of a typical research career. This is because they typically require researchers to physically section and image the specimens. In addition, each technique only gives a partial picture: medical-type imaging reveals connections between brain regions; visible light microscopy images neuronal circuits at the cellular level; and electron microscopy (EM) identifies synapses and intracellular structures. A paper published recently, however, outlines a new technique that could develop a complete image of the brain at a rapid speed.
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