New 3D Model of the Human Brain Opens Research Windows

A team of neuroscientists in Germany led by Dr. Katrin Amunts has developed a new 3D model of the human brain. As announced on 7/16/13 the team took 7,400 super thin sections of the brain of a deceased 65 year old woman in excellent health and digitized them into a 3D model on a computer. The model called Big Brain enables brain researchers to study any of these areas on a molecular level. Although the initial application of the model will be to help researchers explore causes of and cures for neuro-degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, the model can be used in other ways.

For example the model shows normal cortical thickness for older persons and this could be compared to the cortical thickness of an older person after he/she suffered a TBI (which tends to reduce cortical thickness). Over the next decade scientists in 23 countries will be helping Dr. Amunts develop the Big Brain model into a more complete and more useful model than it is right now. During this time neuroscientists may find uses for the model to help understand, diagnose or treat traumatic brain injuries.

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