A malignant brain tumour (red mass, left) of this person’s brain, wreathed by fine tracts of white matter. The red fibres signal danger: if severed by the neurosurgeon’s scalpel, their loss could affect the patient’s vision, perception, and motor function. Blue fibres show functional connections far from the tumour that are unlikely to be affected during surgery.
Together, the red and blue fibres provide a road map for neurosurgeons as they plan their operations. Computer science graduate student Maxime Chamberland of the Sherbrooke Connectivity Imaging Lab in Canada produces images like these on a weekly basis, he says. Using an MRI technique that detects the direction in which water molecules move along the white matter fibres, he generates a three-dimensional image of functional connections in the brain.
This image was awarded an Honourable Mention and won the People’s Choice Award in the 2012 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge.
Credit: Maxime Chamberland, David Fortin, and Maxime Descoteaux, Sherbrooke Connectivity Imaging Lab | Science | National Science Foundation