If you've ever wondered how a single neuron fits into the incredibly complex structure of a living brain, I highly recommend this three minute video. Be prepared to be awestruck.
This video won Honorable Mention in Science's 2010 Visualization Challenge featured in the February 18 issue.
According to the paper in Science:
Animator Drew Berry and his neurobiologist colleagues take you on a journey deep inside the mouse brain. The video brings to life data from the Whole Brain Catalog, a massive database of microscopy and other data sets on the mouse brain, under development at the University of California, San Diego. It opens with a mouse sniffing a camera--a fitting image, says Berry, because the part of the brain that stores memory also controls the sense of smell. The video then zooms in on the mouse brain, focusing on the hippocampus, the headquarters of scent and memory. From there it isolates the dentate gyrus (upper right), the region that recognizes smells and creates new memories. Individual brain cells then start to appear. Finally, a new connection forms between two neurons, representing the creation of a new memory.
"For a memory, you'd have many, many neurons forming, or connections being broken and new patterns being made," says Berry. Even so, he hopes this video will inspire a sense of wonder at how the brain works.
Presumably, the mouse wouldn't benefit from the formation of a synapse wherever an axon and dendrite were in proximity. What determines whether a new synapse would be useful?
Absolutely AWESOME! Thanks for sharing this!
I have the same in my head.