Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Canada Medicine Science

Whole Human Brain Mapped In 3D 99

ananyo writes "An international group of neuroscientists has sliced, imaged and analysed the brain of a 65-year-old woman to create the most detailed map yet of a human brain in its entirety. The atlas, called 'BigBrain,' shows the organization of neurons with microscopic precision, which could help to clarify or even redefine the structure of brain regions obtained from decades-old anatomical studies (abstract). The atlas was compiled from 7,400 brain slices, each thinner than a human hair. Imaging the sections by microscope took a combined 1,000 hours and generated 10 terabytes of data. Supercomputers in Canada and Germany churned away for years reconstructing a three-dimensional volume from the images, and correcting for tears and wrinkles in individual sheets of tissue."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Whole Human Brain Mapped In 3D

Comments Filter:
  • Ethics (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Picass0 ( 147474 ) on Friday June 21, 2013 @11:33AM (#44070601) Homepage Journal

    Consider for a moment that were possible. Probably not today, at some point if driver software could be written to run this digital model. If by some long shot it were possible would it be ethically right? What if there were some sense of awareness, personality, fear of the strange circumstances she now finds herself in? She would be without her senses and without any level of input from the outside that she would relate to as a normal person.

    And then consider: Is it right to turn such a system on and off like any other computer?

  • Re:Ethics (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tighe_L ( 642122 ) on Friday June 21, 2013 @11:38AM (#44070647) Homepage
    It was mostly in jest, but being that it is a simulation, is it real at all. Will it have a soul? I would think that in a few decades that computers would be able to run such a simulation.
  • Re:Ethics (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Friday June 21, 2013 @11:41AM (#44070669)

    On her, no way it's possible. The brain went too long between death and digitisation - no oxygen means rapid and extreme damage. Even if the scan were good enough to get synapse-level tracing (It isn't), it wouldn't run.

    Give it a few more decades though, maybe as much as a century. There's nothing scientifically impossible about it - it's just an engineering challenge. I imagine you'd need to resort to either nondestructive living readout (Future super-MRI?) or some sort of preservation process (Cryonic or chemical).

    Senses can be simulated too. Just wire up to a robot, or a simulated environment.

Nothing is finished until the paperwork is done.