The most detailed ever scan of the wiring of the human brain has been produced

Lucy Purdy

The world’s most intricate imaging of the brain’s internal wiring has been made by scientists at Cardiff University. It could provide unprecedented insight into the causes of conditions such as dementia, schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis

New images produced by scientists at Cardiff University show the human brain in unrivalled detail. In a collaboration between the university and Siemens Healthineers, data from Europe’s most powerful MRI scanner was combined with cinematic rendering to produce the highly detailed images and films. They provide a new view of the pathways taken by white matter, revealing the complex set of connections that underpin brain function.

The brain of the BBC’s medical correspondent Fergus Walsh brain was scanned (see video below) at Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC) using the Magnetom Skyra Connectom 3T.

 

Another volunteer to be scanned was Sian Rowlands (see video below) who has multiple sclerosis.

 

Conventional scans clearly show lesions, areas of damage, in the brain of MS patients. But the advanced scan can help explain how the lesions affect motor and cognitive pathways – which can trigger movement problems and extreme fatigue in patients such as Rowlands.

The microstructural scanner will be used for research that will potentially have a profound positive impact on the lives of people around the world

Professor Derek Jones, director of CUBRIC, said: “The incredible detail shown in these scans highlight the possibilities available to the talented CUBRIC team which now has access to the most advanced equipment of its type in the world.

“The microstructural scanner will be used for research that will potentially have a profound positive impact on the lives of people around the world. We are looking to provide unprecedented insights into the causes of neurological and psychiatric conditions such as dementia, schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis, as well as understanding the workings of the normal, healthy brain.”

Image and videos: Cardiff University and Siemens Healthineers


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