New technique to visualise brain tissue

The Micro-Computed Tomography Lab of the CENIEH collaborates in the implementation of a new technique that allows to clearly distinguish between the brain’s white matter and grey matter in mammals

Belén Notario Collado, in charge of the Micro-Computed Tomography Laboratory at the Centro Nacional de investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH), is part of the team that has published, in the journal Archives Italiennes de Biologie, a technique to visualise post-mortem nerve tissue through x-ray computed tomography, achieving a clear differentiation between the white matter and grey matter of the brain.

In the CENIEH, post-mortem nerve tissue scans and analysis of a mammal, specifically a lamb, have been carried out. The sharp contrast achieved between the two brain compartments, as well as the high resolution obtained (8 microns), superior to the resolution achieved by magnetic micro-resonance (10 times lower), allows the segmentation and subsequent 3D reconstruction of the white matter.

As explained in this study, led by the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, this leads the way for the quantification of the white matter in post-mortem material in any region of the brain, mainly the cerebral cortex and cerebellum.

With this technique, other neuronal and non-neuronal elements of the nerve tissue may be observed, as the pia mater (internal meninge that protects the central nervous system), and the blood vessels, as well as other anatomical features.

“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 a near future we would like to apply it on the human brain”, says Belén Notario.