The world’s most detailed scan of the brain’s internal wiring has been produced by scientists at Cardiff University.
The detailed scan has been carried out at Cardiff, Nottingham, Cambridge and Stockport, as well as at London England and Ontario.
The findings were published on 5 July 2017.
The scan took around 45 minutes and seemed unremarkable.
The scan showed fibres in the white matter called axons.
These are the brain’s wiring which carry billions of electrical signals.
The scan not only showed the direction of the messaging but also the density of the brain’s wiring.
The extraordinary images produced in Cardiff are the result of a special MRI scanner - one of only three in the world.
The MRI machine reveals the fibres that carry all the brain’s thought processes.
This detailed scan of brain’s internal wiring will help increase understanding of a range of neurological disorders and can be used instead of invasive biopsies.
Conventional scans clearly show lesions (areas of damage) in the brain of patients.
But this advanced scan, showing axonal density, can help explain how the lesions affect motor and cognitive pathways that can trigger movement problems and extreme fatigue.
The scanner itself is not especially powerful, but its ability to vary its magnetic field rapidly with position can map the wires or the axons so thinly that it would take 50 of them to match the thickness of a human hair.
The scanner is currently being used for research into many neurological conditions including Multiple Sclerosis (MS), schizophrenia, dementia and epilepsy