What's that monkey thinking about when he's mushing down that banana or tossing feces at you? Well, you're looking at it-this is a map of where a macaque's thoughts live. It's made possible by new 3D visualization algorithms developed by neuroscientists at Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston which render a brain's billions of individual neuron connections in full-color 3D, with each visible strand representing several tens of thousands of the too-small-to-image neural pathways. It's all done by simply applying new processing to existing MRI scan data, and thankfully, it works on human brains too.
The tech, called diffusion spectrum imaging, takes current data from MRI scans and analyzes it for the passage of water molecules along the individual neuron connections in the brain. It then processes it to spit out the 3D maps. It's possible to do on live subjects (like the human brain image above), but more detail can be achieved by scanning non-living samples for up to 24 hours.
Doctors are using the new images to better understand our brain's infinitely complicated wiring, and to avoid important neural nets during surgeries. More including 3D model animations (awesome) at: [Technology Review]