For the first time a three-dimensional (3-D) digital reconstruction of a complete human brain, called the BigBrain shows the brain anatomy in microscopic detail.
It shows the human brain at a spatial resolution of 20 microns, smaller than the size of one fine strand of hair-exceeding that of existing reference brains presently in the public domain.
The new tool is made freely available to the broader scientific community to advance the field of neuroscience.
Researchers from Germany and Canada collaborated on the ultra-high resolution brain model.
The sophisticated modern image processing methods reveal an unprecedented look at the very fine details of the human brain's microstructure, or cellular level.
The anatomical tool will allow for three-dimensional cytoarchitectonic mapping of the human brain and serve as an atlas for small cellular circuit data, or single layers or sublayers of the cerebral cortex, explained the researchers.
Until recently, reference brains did not probe further than the macroscopic, or visible, components of the brain.
Now, the BigBrain provides a resolution much finer than the typical 1 mm resolution from MRI studies.
The findings are published in the journal Science, which is published by AAAS, the international non-profit science society.