3D Scans Let Scientists Navigate Brains Like Google Maps

Researchers have developed the knife-edge scanning microscope (KESM), which can slice, scan and map brains.

A research team at Texas A&M University’s Brain Networks Laboratory, led by Bruce McCormick, have developed a new machine that can automatically slice and scan a brain and assemble the images into a navigatable online atlas. This knife-edge scanning microscope (KESM) takes a piece of tissue and cuts it into 0.5mm-thick sections using a diamond knife. A laser on the knife’s edge lights up the tissue as it is sliced and the images are captured by a microscope.

3D Scans Let You Navigate Brains Like Google Maps

Wired reports that the machine can scan and assemble 3D brain images automatically, taking around 100 hours to scan a complete mouse brain, and the resolution enables people to see the individual neurons within the brain slices.

3D Scans Let You Navigate Brains Like Google Maps

The online atlas features a collection of 3D maps of mouse brains, powered by the Google Maps API. Website visitors can look at different specimens from various viewpoints, and they can zoom in and navigate in the same way they would use the Google Maps interface to explore a location.

KESM brain atlas