[In mid January], 18 institutions teamed up and devised a method to image entire brains 1,000 times faster than anything before. Dubbed by the team as an “Avengers, unite!” moment, they combined strengths to physically blow up brain tissue to over 20 times its usual size, and scanned their inner circuits and molecular constituents—down to the nano-scale level—using a new type of blazingly fast microscopy.
The results are stunning videos of the fly and mouse brains, in which every nook and cranny is illuminated and reconstructed in neon colors.
It’s not just eye-candy. Scientists have been eagerly devising new ways to map entire brains with increasing precision and resolution, with the hope of unlocking the brain’s mysteries—which circuits underlie what behaviors?
But the end game is vastly more ambitious: simulate a whole brain inside a computer, a feat that some say will eventually lead to general AI.
But now, “we’ve crossed a threshold in imaging performance,” said Dr. Ed Boyden at MIT, one of the leading investigators in this project. “That’s why we’re so excited. We’re not just scanning incrementally more brain tissue, we’re scanning entire brains.”
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