Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

First micro-structure atlas of human brain completed

Date:
October 19, 2012
Source:
University College London - UCL
Summary:
Scientists have built the first atlas of white-matter microstructure in the human brain. The project’s final results have the potential to change the face of neuroscience and medicine over the coming decade.

A European team of scientists has built the first atlas of white-matter microstructure in the human brain. The project's final results have the potential to change the face of neuroscience and medicine over the coming decade.

The work relied on groundbreaking MRI technology and was funded by the EU's future and emerging technologies program with a grant of 2.4 million Euros. The participants of the project, called CONNECT, were drawn from leading research centers in countries across Europe including Israel, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Denmark, Switzerland and Italy.

The project investigators met October 19 in Paris, after 3 years of research, to announce the conclusion of the project and present a report of their findings.

The new atlas combines three-dimensional images from the MRI scans of 100 brains of volunteers. To achieve this, CONNECT developed advanced MRI methods providing unprecedented detail and accuracy.

Professor Daniel Alexander, a CONNECT steering committee member from the UCL Department of Computer Science said: "The UCL team use the latest computer modelling algorithms and hardware to invent new imaging techniques. The techniques we devised were key to realising the new CONNECT brain atlas."

"The imaging techniques reveal new information about brain structure that help us understand how low-level cellular architecture relate to high-level thought processes."

Currently, biomedical research teams around the world studying brain science rely on a brain atlas produced by painstaking and destructive histological methods on the brains of a few individuals who donated their bodies to science.

The new atlas simulates the impossible process of painstakingly examining every mm2 of brain tissue (of which there are around 100 million per brain) with a microscope, while leaving the brain in tact.

The key novelty in the atlas is the mapping of microscopic features (such as average cell size and packing density) within the white matter, which contains the neuronal fibers that transmit information around the living brain. The results of the project, obtained through advanced image processing techniques, provide new depth and accuracy in our understanding of the human brain in health and disease.

The atlas describes the brain's microstructure in standardized space, which enables non-expert users, such as physicians or medical researchers, to exploit the wealth of knowledge it contains. The atlas contains a variety of new images that represent different microscopic tissue characteristics, such as the fiber diameter and fiber density across the brain, all estimated using MRI. These images will serve as the reference standard of future brain studies in both medicine and basic neuroscience.

The project will dramatically facilitate and promote future research into white matter structure and function. Historically in neuroscience, the vast majority of research effort has been invested in understanding and studying gray matter and neurons, while white matter has received relatively little attention.

This owes largely to the lack of effective research tools to study white matter, even though it comprises about half the volume of the brain. The new MRI methods that were developed in CONNECT allow researchers, for the first time, to visualize the micro-structure of the living brain over the whole brain.

This opens new realms in our understanding of our most complex organ. In the future, the project members intend to use the technology they have developed to study the dynamics and time dependence of the micro-structure in white matter. For example they will search for a finger print or a trace that a cognitive task imprints on white matter microstructure encoding new experiences in the wiring of the brain.

Another future direction is to characterize and understand micro-structural changes caused by different neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's or schizophrenia, in order to develop better diagnostic procedures for these and other devastating conditions.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University College London - UCL. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University College London - UCL. "First micro-structure atlas of human brain completed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121019082132.htm>.
University College London - UCL. (2012, October 19). First micro-structure atlas of human brain completed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121019082132.htm
University College London - UCL. "First micro-structure atlas of human brain completed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121019082132.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Researchers say women who diet at a young age are at greater risk of developing harmful health habits, including eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins