Meet "Big Brain," the first high-res, 3D digital model of the human brain. It's the result of a huge, 10-year project built from individual scans of 7,400 slices of a single human brain. The project will help scientists learn more about our minds.
The "Big Brain" project is the result of an international team of researchers from Germany and Canada. MIT Technology Review has a great piece up on the project, which goes into just how much work it takes to create a 3D image this detailed:
Alan Evans, a professor at the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and senior author of a paper that reports the results in the journal Science, says his team then took on “the technical challenge of trying to stitch together 7,500 sheets of Saran wrap” into a three-dimensional object using digital image processing. Many slices had small rips, tears, and distortions, so the team manually edited the images to fix major signs of damage and then used an automated program for minor fixes. Guided by previously taken MRI images and relationships between neighboring sections, they then aligned the sections to create a continuous 3-D object representing about a terabyte of data.
An overview video from the research team behind the project gives a good view of just how close this baby can get. At the highest zoom, the map can't show individual cells. But it's detailed enough to learn about the different layers of cells in the brain.