Lia Min, Ph.D., Research Fellow, Life Sciences Institute (Cai Laboratory), Adjunct Lecturer in Art and Design, Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design, University of Michigan
The average human brain has around 80 BILLION neurons and about 20 billion of those are in the cerebral cortex, the region of the brain that is critical for consciousness, memory, thought and language. But for the brain to work properly, these neurons must connect properly to one another, to make functional “circuits”.
This image is from a “Brainbow” mouse; a mouse that was genetically engineered so that a subset of its neurons express a wide range of different colors. Using the multiple layers of raw microscopic images at the bottom of this image, individual neurons are traced and converted into 3D data. The 3D models at the top appear to 'grow' out of the microscopic images. With further improvement in these tools, we will get increasingly closer to understanding how these neural circuits are “wired” and what happens when these circuits are injured or connected improperly.