A European team of scientists have built the first atlas of white-matter microstructure in the human brain. The project’s final results have the potential to change the face of neuroscience and medicine over the coming decade. The work relied on groundbreaking MRI technology and was funded by the EU’s future and emerging technologies program with a grant of 2.4 million Euros. The participants of the project, called CONNECT, were drawn from leading research centers in countries across Europe including Israel, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Denmark, Switzerland and Italy.
The new atlas combines three-dimensional images from the MRI scans of 100 brains of volunteers. To achieve this, CONNECT developed advanced MRI methods providing unprecedented detail and accuracy. Currently, biomedical research teams around the world studying brain science rely on a brain atlas produced by painstaking and destructive histological methods on the brains of a few individuals who donated their bodies to science. The new atlas simulates the impossible process of painstakingly examining every mm2 of brain tissue with a microscope, while leaving the brain intact.