Revealing the Brain's architecture
Using a new technology called diffusion spectrum imaging, scientists are able to see for the first time—and in stunning detail—how neural fibers crisscross the brain and connect its regions. The imaging technique, developed at Massachusetts General Hospital, greatly increases the power of conventional scanners and uses mega-magnets to map the way water molecules move in the brain’s gray matter, delineating in real time which neurons are activated and in which direction they are sending impulses.
The following images by MGH’s Randy Buckner, director of the Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program, and Bruce Rosen, director of the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, depict the connecting architecture, known as white matter, of one person’s brain. The colors in the images, which were taken at various angles and show different brain subsections, allow scientists to track the fibers’ multiple pathways. But less than 1% of the white matter is revealed here; capturing too much of the dense neural pathways would obscure the brain’s underlying structure.