3D Brain Images


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A 3-D model of the brain of the zebra finch, a songbird studied by Neuroscientists addressing many fundamental issues such as neurogenesis in the adult brain, hormonal regulation of brain and behavior, mechanisms of sexual dimorphism in the brain, sensory learning and its sensitive periods, and sensorimotor acquisition and adjustments of complex vocal behaviors. Note the two prominent cerebral hemispheres of the forebrain, which evolved independently from the mammalian forebrain. The similarity and differences between forebrain circuits in birds and mammals can illuminate principles of brain organization to solve important behavioral tasks. The right image contains approximate location of selected brain nuclei in the zebra finch brain. These "song nuclei" play critical roles in birdsong learning and production, and are part of one of the best-characterized behavior-producing neural networks in the vertebrate forebrain. (Orange: nucleus HVC; yellow: interfacialis nucleus; pink: robustus nucleus of the arcopallium; green: Area X of the striatum; blue: dorsomedial nucleus of the intercollicular region). The brain model was based on a combination of close-up photographs of a whole fixed brain and digitized tracings of a sectioned brain from an atlas created by Eugene Akutagawa of the California Institute of Technology.

Honey Bee

View a 3D model of a honey bee brain.

The honey bee and the fruit fly are two insects widely used in Neuroscience research. Insect brains work in much the same way as larger vertebrate brains, and the relatively smaller size of the insect brain allows use of invasive treatments and procedures to test hypotheses about how brains work in general. Also, the genomes of the fruit fly and the honey bee are now available and very useful for understanding the molecular/genetic control of many neural processes (e.g., learning & memory, development, motor control). The image loads showing the front of the brain, containing almost 1,000,000 neurons and filling 1-2 mm3, as it would appear directly through the front of the bee's head. The lobes on the far left and right are the optic lobes, processing information from the compound eyes. The golf ball shaped lobes in the front and below are the antennal lobes, which process the bee's sense of smell from olfactory receptors on the antennae. The blue neuron is a relay from the antennal lobe to the "mushroom bodies" at the top of the brain, which integrate input from most of the sensory modalities. The yellow neuron is an essential cell for relaying information from the mushroom bodies to other brain areas, including motor centers. The area that extends behind and below the brain, and which forms the hole in the center, integrates sensory information coming from the bee's mouthparts (e.g. taste). The beginning of the bee's digestive tract - the esophagus - passes through the hole. This 3-D, rotatable image if the honey bee brain was created with data downloaded from the Bee Brain Atlas. Prof Randolf Menzel and Dr. Juergen Rybak, from the Institute of Biology – Neurobiology at the Free University of Berlin, provided valuable help by making these data available to us. For further information about the honey bee brain and brain atlas see: Brandt R, Rohlfing T, Rybak J, Krofczik S, Maye A, Westerhoff M, Hege HC, and Menzel R. (2005) Three-dimensional average-shape atlas of the honeybee brain and its applications. J Comp Neurol. 492:1-19.


Video a 3D model of a rat's brain.


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