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Image of the Week: Wiring of the human brain

15 Aug, 2014

Wiring of the human brain

Spark the imagination… submit your images for the 2015 Wellcome Image Awards now! If you are a research scientist, photographer or illustrator, your images could reach a global audience. The winning images will go on display at science centres and public galleries across the UK. We are looking for high quality imagery that relates to biomedical science and contemporary healthcare, and are interested in all artistic media and imaging techniques, from hand-drawn illustrations to super-resolution microscopy and functional MRI scans. Any images we receive before 30 September 2014 will be considered for the Wellcome Image Awards 2015. Email Sabrina Taner for more information about this.

To inspire you, this week’s image focuses on one of the 2014 Award winners, a bird’s-eye view of nerve fibres in a normal, healthy adult human brain. The back of the brain is on the left of the image and the left side of the brain is at the top of the image. Brain cells communicate with each other through these nerve fibres, which have been visualised by diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DWI MRI). Diffusion-weighted imaging is a specialised type of MRI scan; here it is measuring the movement of water in many directions in order to reconstruct the orientation of the nerve fibres. As this is a 3D image the direction of the nerve fibres has been colour-coded. Fibres travelling up and down (between the top of the head and the neck) are coloured blue, fibres travelling forwards and backwards (between the face and back of the head) are coloured green, and fibres travelling left and right (between the ears) are coloured red.

This image was taken by Zeynep Saygin, a postdoctoral fellow at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Zeynep’s work focuses on understanding how different regions in the brain work together to process information and how this changes in people as they develop or in those with dyslexia. She said “I am continually astounded by the sheer number and complexity of the nerve fibres of the human brain, this image only shows a small portion of its neuronal connections. There is something utterly provocative and powerful about seeing the physical architecture that makes up the human mind.”

This year, for the first time, the Wellcome Image Awards went on display simultaneously in all four countries of the UK: at the Glasgow Science Centre, the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Manchester, Techniquest in Cardiff and W5 in Belfast. In 2015 the winning images will go on display in simultaneous exhibitions at even more science centres and public galleries across the UK.

Image credit: Zeynep M. Saygin, McGovern Institute, MIT/Wellcome Images

Wellcome Images is one of the world’s richest and most unusual collections, with themes ranging from medical and social history to contemporary healthcare and biomedical science. All our images are available in digital form so please click the link above if you would like to use the picture that features in this post, or to quickly find related ones. Many are free to use non-commercially under the terms of a Creative Commons licence and full details of the specific licence for each image are provided.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 18 Aug, 2014 9:58 am

    Reblogged this on Medical Library News.

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