A side view of brain pathways, from the right. At far left is the visual cortex, connected by a large bundle, green, which connects to the frontal lobes. At centre, the vertical pathways in blue serve voluntary movement, connecting the motor areas of the brain with the spinal cord and muscles. The green path at centre is the right cingulum bundle, here seen from the side. The cerebellum, which controls coordinated movement, can be seen at bottom left.

16 February 2013 Last updated at 20:28 ET

Scans reveal intricate brain wiring

By Pallab Ghosh
Science correspondent, BBC News, Boston

Scientists are set to release the first batch of data from a project designed to create the first map of the human brain.

The project could help shed light on why some people are naturally scientific, musical or artistic.

Some of the first images were shown at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Boston.

I found out how researchers are developing new brain imaging techniques for the project by having my own brain scanned.

Scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital are pushing brain imaging to its limit using a purpose built scanner. It is one of the most powerful scanners in the world.

The scanner’s magnets need 22MW of electricity – enough to power a nuclear submarine.

The researchers invited me to have my brain scanned. I was asked if I wanted “the 10-minute job or the 45-minute ‘full monty’” which would give one of the most detailed scans of the brain ever carried out. Only 50 such scans have ever been done.

I went for the full monty.

It was a pleasant experience enclosed in the scanner’s vast twin magnets. Powerful and rapidly changing magnetic fields were looking to see tiny particles of water travelling along the larger nerve fibres.

By following the droplets, the scientists in the adjoining cubicle are able to trace the major connections within my brain.

Read more: BBC News – Scans reveal intricate brain wiring.

Home           Top of page