Researchers have created the first high-resolution 3D digital model of the human brain, which they have called "Big Brain". The reconstruction shows the brain's anatomy in microscopic detail, enabling researchers to see features smaller than a strand of hair.
It will be made freely available to neuroscientists to help them in their research. The model has been published in the journal Science. The research team had to slice 7,400 sections from the brain of a deceased 65-year-old woman, each half the thickness of a human hair. The team then had to stain each slice to bring out the anatomical detail and scan 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.
The result is a 3D high definition digital brain into which researchers can zoom to study areas of interest in microscopic detail.