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February 19, 2013

Scans reveal intricate brain wiring

Pallab Ghosh:

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.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at February 19, 2013 3:17 AM
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