Detailed mapping of how the brain's connections develop
Like a ball of wires, bright colours pick out groups of nerve cells or neurons in this scan of a new-born baby’s brain. Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging follows the flow of molecules inside these brain bundles, mapping out neuronal connections in detailed scans – this is one of hundreds made available to the public as part of The Developing Human Connectome Project. While the goal is to explore how the brain’s wiring develops and changes before and after birth, scans have their own challenges – from imaging babies in the womb as early as 24 weeks into pregnancy, to making sure fidgeting little ones are asleep long enough to complete the scans – new software allows the images to be 'corrected' for these wriggles. The valuable results will be used as a reference for developmental biologists worldwide, and combined with genetic information to explore how brains develop differently in conditions like autism.
Written by John Ankers
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