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A virtual voyage inside the brain

2-D brain image of a mouse brain injected with a fluorescent retrograde virus in the brain stem — captured with a lightsheet microscope. Credit: Courtine Lab/EPFL/Leonie Asboth, Elodie Rey

The amount of data that is becoming available on the brain, both the human one and the ones of those animals, like the mouse, that are used to study brain structures keeps growing on a daily base and has already reached staggering levels. There are now hundreds of terabytes of data on the brain, its connectivity structure, the way neurones talk with one another and so on.

At the Wyss Centre for Bio and Neuroengineering researchers have used terabytes of data to create a virtual reality clip (see below) in the brain, looking at it as it processes certain signals and even as it is experiencing certain emotions (in the clip shown the voyage takes us through the rewarding centres of the mouse brain).

They have published their results in a paper on Neuroscience 2017.

The goal is beyond producing some entertaining and fascinating clips. They hope that their rendering will make easier to understand the structure of the brain, its neural circuits and what is actually going on.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.