The Transparent Brain

12 Apr
Karl Deisseroth and his team at Stanford University have created transparent visualisations of the mouse brain, offering a three-dimensional view of the neural networks within.

Deisseroth’s project, CLARITY, uses detergent SDS to eliminate light-blocking lipids in the tissue while sparing the necessary proteins, thereby clarifying the neural connections in the brain as a whole, or in large blocks of tissue. This allows neurons to be fluorescently identified and labelled in the whole mouse brain, from the outer cortex to the inner structures, such as the thalamus and hippocampus.

This technique has huge implications for the field of neuroanatomy and connectomics (mapping the wiring of the brain) and is a great advancement from the days of microscopically looking at tiny portions of brain tissue. The CLARITY technique can also be used on new and previously donated brains.

Deisseroth first published this technique in their paper “Structural and molecular interrogation of intact biological systems” in Nature on April 10th of this year (click here to check it out). The CLARITY project is currently working on using this technique to turn an entire human brain transparent. 

To find out more, see the Nature news story here.

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