Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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New Imaging Techniques II

Scan of a deceased person's brain imaged over five days shows unprecedented neuroanatomical detail

11 July 2019

Anatomy Lives On

A brain scan of unprecedented resolution shows the intricate neuroanatomy of a deceased 58-year-old woman’s brain, which was treated with a chemical and imaged continuously for five days in a custom-built scanner. Key to its high-resolution is the fact that the scan lasted much longer than would be possible in a living person and had no risk of movements blurring the image. Previous methods could only scan post-mortem tissue in small sections. The whole brain in this video has tissue of two shades. A typical scan of a living brain shows grey tissue on the brain’s outer surface, where cells are tightly packed together. These cells send messages along wires that are coated in fat, making the brain’s inner tissue appear white. Here, the scanner’s contrast makes the shades of grey and white appear reversed. This new approach could help researchers identify links between brain anatomy and disease.

Written by Deborah Oakley

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