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Amazingly Detailed Images Reveal a Single Cubic Millimeter of Human Brain in 3D

Published in Brain/Neurology, Scanners and Imaging.

A nanoscale project represents a giant leap forward in understanding the human brain.

With more than 1.4 petabytes of electron microscopy imaging data, a team of scientists has reconstructed a teeny-tiny cubic segment of the human brain.

It’s just a millimeter on each side – but 57,000 cells, 150 million synapses, and 230 millimeters of ultrafine veins are all packed into that microscopic space.

The work of almost a decade, it’s the largest and most detailed reproduction of the human brain to date down to the resolution of the synapses, the structures that allow neurons to transmit signals between them.

“The word ‘fragment’ is ironic,” says neuroscientist Jeff Lichtman of Harvard University. “A terabyte is, for most people, gigantic, yet a fragment of a human brain – just a miniscule, teeny-weeny little bit of human brain – is still thousands of terabytes.”