Scientists created an incredibly detailed model of the human brain

Scientists from Harvard University and Google’s research institute have made significant advancements in brain research by mapping a piece of the human brain the size of a cubic millimeter. This groundbreaking 3D model includes 57,000 cells, 230 millimeters of blood vessels, and 150 million synapses, providing a wealth of data about brain cells and nerve connections.

The sample was obtained from a 45-year-old woman undergoing epilepsy treatment, specifically from the cerebral cortex responsible for learning, problem solving, and sensory perception. The sample was meticulously prepared by immersing it in preservatives and staining it with heavy metals to better distinguish the cells. Cut into 5,000 pieces, each 34 nanometers thick, the sample was then imaged using electron microscopes.

Artificial intelligence models developed by Google researchers assembled the microscope images into a complete 3D model, revealing previously unknown aspects of the cerebral cortex’s functioning. The team identified neurons with up to 50 connections with each other, unusual in typical neuron interactions. They also discovered pairs of neurons that were nearly perfect mirror images of each other and neurons with efferent branches forming large coils. While the formations may be related to the patient’s epilepsy, further research is needed to confirm this.

This comprehensive understanding of brain cells, nerve connections, and the functioning of the cerebral cortex has been achieved by unlocking the complexities of the brain at such a microscopic level. Scientists hope to gain valuable insights into neurological disorders and brain health using this data and tools for investigating this brain modeling are freely available for exploration.

In summary, researchers from Harvard University and Google’s research institute have made groundbreaking advancements in brain research by mapping a piece of human brain tissue that is as small as a cubic millimeter. The study has revealed previously unknown aspects of the cerebral cortex’s functioning at a microscopic level and provided valuable insights into both healthy and diseased brain function.

By Sophia Gonzalez

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