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28 Jan 2019 - 01 Feb 2019

New Imaging Method Visualizes Brain Tissue Better

By Medimaging International staff writers
Posted on 05 Sep 2018
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Image: Slices of lamb brain tissues show difference between white and grey matter (Photo courtesy of Belén Notario/ CENIEH).
Image: Slices of lamb brain tissues show difference between white and grey matter (Photo courtesy of Belén Notario/ CENIEH).
A novel post-mortem X-ray computed tomography (CT) technique can clearly differentiate between white matter and grey matter in the brain.

Developed by researchers at Complutense University (Madrid, Spain) and Centro Nacional de investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH; Burgos, Spain), the new technique can produce images with a 10-fold higher resolution than that of magnetic micro-resonance. According to the researchers, this allows quantification of white matter in post-mortem material in any region of the brain, mainly the cerebral cortex and cerebellum. Other neuronal and non-neuronal elements of nerve tissues, such as pia mater, blood vessels, and other anatomical features can also be identified.

In trials of the X-ray CT technique using potassium dichromate as the contrast agent, post-mortem scans of lamb brain tissue revealed a sharp contrast had been achieved between the white and grey area of the brain, with a high resolution of eight microns, thus allowing segmentation and subsequent three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction of the white matter of the brain. The study was published on July 1, 2018, in Archives Italiennes de Biologie.

“This technique offers many possibilities. We have applied it on other mammals, such as pigs, in the anatomical study of other vertebrates, such as fishes, and in the near future, we would like to apply it on the human brain,” said study co-author Belén Notario Collado, PhD, director of the MicroComputed Tomography Laboratory at CENIEH.

The white matter of the brain contains the neuronal fibers that transmit information around the living brain. Historically, the vast majority of neuroscience research effort has been invested in understanding and studying gray matter and neurons, while white matter has received relatively little attention, largely due to the lack of effective research tools to study it, even though it comprises about half the volume of the brain.

Related Links:
Complutense University
Centro Nacional de investigación sobre la Evolución Humana

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