The Brain in Technicolour

I thought this picture that I used in my last post deserved a proper explanation.

The Brain in Technicolour

Firstly I want to point out that yes, it is a brain. Most of us probably think they all look like this:

The Brain

And yes, that is what they normally look like.

The brilliant picture above is an image of the brain using a technique called ‘Diffusion Tensor Imaging’. Essentially what it does is find a set of nerves in the brain and see’s where they go. These nerves will be marked out in a specific colour so you know which ones they are.

If you take a lot of these pictures using different sets of nerves and different colours, when you put them all together you get a picture like the one above. So the super colourful picture is essentially some (not all) of the different nerve pathways in the brain.

Anyone want to know further details about how this is done?

Well you ionise a molecule in the nerve (make it magnetic). You then use a set of more powerful magnets (like those found in an MRI machine) to find out where this molecule is (they can detect exactly where it is inside the head). This molecule then naturally follows the path of the nerve as it moves with the electrical signals. Therefore the magnets can detect a pathway inside your head. That’s a nerve pathway in the brain.

Not so hard now is it? (This is top notch medical imaging technology at its best, and if you just understood what I said, you kind of understand how it works! It only took a hundred years or so to make…)

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10 Comments

  1. Nice, I am excited for more neuroscience posts!

    Side-note: Technicolor is also the name of an alternative hypothesis for how particles get mass.

    Reply
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