The Open Connectome Project takes a close look at the brain

Microscopic images of the human brain

Credit: Nick Weiler

The website of the Open Connectome Project, founded by Joshua Vogelstein and Randal Burns of the Whiting School (along with Vogelstein's brother Jacob and PhD student Eric Perlman), states its purpose as "reverse-engineering the brain one synapse at a time." To do so, scientists must see the brain's architecture in extraordinary detail. One way to accomplish this is with array tomography, a method that uses a computer to stack microscopic images of the thinnest possible slices of brain tissue to construct a detailed three-dimensional image. The photomicrograph here is of a small slice of human cortex; the colored dots are believed to be synapses.

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