“The great events of the world take place in the brain.” Oscar Wilde
“The brain is wider than the sky.” Emily Dickinson
Views of the Brain: The usual photos and depictions of the brain typically show it to be smooth. However, in contrast, the reality of the brain is that it has a very different look. Additionally, these familiar representations (Shown below) do not show the brain’s intricate and sophisticated wiring that provides for our daily thoughts and routine actions. This wiring consists of tightly bundled neural projections called fiber tracts. These projections connect the various parts of the brain. Fiber tracts highlight the unique interactions of communication used by the brain.
“Follow your heart but take your brain with you.” Alfred Adler
New Emerging Views of the Brain: This is a yearly contest sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The winning image and video are highlighted here from the 2022 “Show Us Your BRAINs Photo and Video contest. NIH’s Brain Research supports the contest through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative.”
The winning photo showing these fiber tracts was submitted by Sahar Ahmad, Ye Wu, and Pew-Thian Yap from The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. According to the NIH Director’s Blog, Dr. Lawrence Tabak, “The UNC Chapel Hill team produced this image using a non-invasive technique called diffusion MRI tractography. It’s an emerging approach with many new possibilities for neuroscience and the clinic . Ahmad’s team is working to map the brain’s many neural connections and how they change across the human lifespan.” Very proud of this team, and “Yes, I’m a Tar Heel!”
The winning video from the Andreas Tolias group, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX is equally beautiful. According to the NIH Director’s blog (The Amazing Brain: Capturing Neurons in Action,https://directorsblog.nih.gov/2022/08/16/the-amazing-brain-capturing-neurons-in-action/), assembling this video required multiple groups assisting the Tolias group, including Nuno da Costa and Clay Reid, Allen Institute for Brain Science, Seattle, WA and Sebastian Seung’s team, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ. They could trace individual neurons using technology beyond my comprehension and a remarkable collaborative effort. From there, they were able to assemble the fantastic video (shown below):
“The brain is like a muscle. When it is in use we feel very good. Understanding is joyous.” Carl Sagan
Conclusion: I was trained as a protein biochemist who studied the molecular process of how blood clots. Having Parkinson’s now, I have grown close to the brain and its unique ability to function and process. We are controlled by the brain’s capacity to regulate our actions and everything we do, think, and respond to. Therefore, this image and this video rock!
“There are billions of neurons in our brains, but what are neurons? Just cells. The brain has no knowledge until connections are made between neurons. All that we know, all that we are, comes from the way our neurons are connected.” Tim Berners-Lee
The Amazing Brain: Tight-Knit Connections <https://directorsblog.nih.gov/2022/08/23/the-amazing-brain-tight-knit-connections/>
The Amazing Brain: Capturing Neurons in Action <https://directorsblog.nih.gov/2022/08/16/the-amazing-brain-capturing-neurons-in-action/>