Brain connection maps The Connectome Project

One of the ‘connection maps’ from the Human Connectome Project, which shows pathways in the brain.

I’ll bet you think the brain is an ugly, fairly squishy grey thing that’s best not looked at too closely if you want to keep your dinner down.

Not so. Check out this positively beautiful set of 3D images of the brain released recently thanks to the Human Connectome Project.

Using powerful scanners and magnets that could power a nuclear submarine, the US scientists look for tiny particles of water travelling along nerve fibres to trace the major connections within the brain.

This exciting tech combines US and European brain research to accelerate our understanding of – and vision into – the brain.

Like the Genome Project, the Human Connectome Project will collect genetic and behavioural data from the subjects in order to build up a complete picture of the factors that influence the human brain and best of all the data will be released to the public and scientists in the coming weeks.

Read more about The Connectome Project at BBC online  and The Daily Mail.

brain scan image pathways

A ‘connection map’ which shows pathways in the brain

corpos callossum cingulum bundles hippocampus MRI scan The Connectome Project

A close-up of the centre of the brain looking back. The large green paths are the “cingulum” bundles, which connect areas of the frontal lobes that serve executive function with the memory center, the hippocampus. The large red bundle going left to right is the corpus callosum which connects the left and right sides of the brain.

brain image facial recognition the Human Connectome Project

Yellow and red regions show brain activations in the grey matter when subjects view human faces.

maths reading brain image the Human Connectome Project

Yellow and red areas are activated by a task involving listening to stories. Green and blue areas are more strongly activated by a task involving arithmetic calculations

The Human Connectome Project

A complete cross-section through the front of the brain, with cingulum bundles at the centre. A reduction in the number of fibres in the cingulum bundle which may be an early marker for Alzheimer’s disease.

temporal lobe speech language image

The brain pathways from an above view. The two green paths near centre are the cingulum bundles, and the two C-shaped green paths closer to the sides are major pathways of language, the arcuate bundles which connect the frontal lobes, where facial movements are controlled. The temporal lobes below is where sounds are processed, hearing interpreted, and utterances planned.

cortex frontal lobes cingulum bundles cerebellum MRI scan The Connectome Project

Side view of brain pathways, from the right. Far left is the visual cortex, connected by a large green bundle which connects to the frontal lobes. At centre, the blue vertical pathways serve voluntary movement, connecting the motor areas of the brain with the spinal cord and muscles. The green path at centre is the right cingulum bundle, here seen from the side. The cerebellum, which controls coordinated movement, can be seen at bottom left.