Chinese experts develop tech for mapping rhesus monkey brain at micrometer resolution

(Xinhua) 10:18, August 16, 2021

Screenshot from the official website of Nature Biotechnology

BEIJING, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- Chinese researchers have developed a high-throughput method for mapping the entire brain of the rhesus monkey at micrometer resolution.

This is currently the clearest view of the three-dimensional structure of a rhesus monkey's brain, said Bi Guoqiang, professor at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) and the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology (SIAT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, adding that it also marks an important step toward further understanding of the human brain.

Nerve fiber is the carrier of information underlying all thinking activities and consciousness of the brain. It is usually less than one micrometer in diameter -- one percent of the width of a human hair -- but can be tens of centimeters long in some cases.

Whole-brain mesoscale connectivity mapping that traces these fibers in primates has been hindered by large brain sizes and relatively low throughput of available microscopy methods.

The researchers from the USTC and SIAT developed a high-throughput and high-resolution three-dimensional fluorescence imaging method called VISoR that is capable of completing whole-brain imaging of a rhesus monkey within 100 hours.

They also developed a pipeline termed SMART for sample preparation and handling, optical imaging, as well as semiautomated image reconstruction and tracing for three-dimensional analysis of individual fibers in the monkey brain, according to their recent research article published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

The new imaging method is expected to facilitate the study of the primate brain, and to have wide application in life science and medicine which require fast, large-scale three-dimensional imaging.

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)


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