Scientists hope to unlock secrets of human brain with high-res image of monkey
Scientists in China are hoping a high-res 3D image of a monkey brain will unlock the secrets of the human brain and help them develop treatments for Parkinson's disease.
Experts believe that the high-resolution image covering every neuron and fibre of the animal's brain could help to answer questions on how its human counterpart works and how it goes wrong.
Though smaller, a monkey brain is among the closest to our equivalent in terms of structural complexity and cognitive function.
A team from the University of Science and Technology of China managed to get a full brain image with a resolution of 1 micron that provides an unprecedented level of detail for brain cells that are typically about 100 microns in size.
But the image of that one monkey brain is enormous so the researchers had to use artificial intelligence to analyse it.
The team spent five years developing the imaging technology at a laboratory in Shenzhen until they could take an image of a monkey brain in less than four days, at a speed that was previously considered impossible as the complexity of the camera meant even a mouse brain could take days.
A monkey brain is 200 times larger than that of a mouse.
To prove that the process was efficient and reliable, the Chinese team mapped the brains of three male, 10-year-old monkeys.
According to the researchers, the imaging process could be applied to other organs or body parts and, combined with technology like AI, it could significantly add to the knowledge of their inner structures and how they work.
China is investing more in neurological research like this under a 54 billion yuan (£6.1billion) national programme, the China Brain Project.
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