By Luke Kenton
The incredible technology, once used to bring the fantastic beasts of Harry Potter to life, is now replicating the same magic away from the big screen – in the field of neuro-science.
Kaleidoscopic in colour, the image rendering software allows scientists to explore the brain like never before.
At the 2017 Society Neurological Annual Meeting in Washing D.C, Tyler Ard and the team from University of Southern California Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute unveiled a revolutionary concept that could have huge implications in helping us understand in more depth just how our brains work.
Utilizing the same technology that brought to life some the Harry Potter films’ most renown characters, Tyler and the USC team have been able to construct and track the neuron pathways of the brain, showing the ‘inner beauty’ of the human mind.
Yet to determine the impact the technology may have in allowing use to find causes for neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s, Tyler and his team will also be incorporating virtual reality into the visualization software, enabling scientist to explore the brain in three dimensions.
Tyler, a neuroscientist specializing in neuroimaging data, said: “The technology has been in development for around two years now.
“When I joined the Laboratory for Neuroimaging at USC two years ago, I was lucky to meet a very talented animator, called James Stains, and
together we began to explore the possibility using highly developed industry graphic tools to directly visualize neuroimaging data.
“We’re still creating new sections of this technology, but so far we’ve been able to monitor brain activity over time, create a typical MRI-scan like structure and study the replicate the wiring of the brain.
“This rendering technology allows us to see a lot of the detail within the brain, that we may have otherwise missed.
“This really makes me, and others, better appreciate what we are working with, as well as enabling us to make our research more appealing to a broader audience.
“We’re interested in seeing if these advanced visualizations could help improve diagnoses of various brain abnormalities, however we haven’t begun to investigate that yet.
“These tools could help researchers get a better look at their data, understand it better and field many research questions and answers.
“We’ve also been working on and are continuing to work with VR technology, utilizing the gaming technology to physically explore the brain and neuroimaging data.
“It was received extreme well, it turns out many people are interested in data visualization.”