These are the most precise images of the brain ever published

The human brain as we have never seen it before. The Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA) has unveiled a series of images taken by Iseult, the most powerful MRI scanner in the world.

After tests on a pumpkin in 2021, it is the brain’s turn to reveal its details with a level of finesse never before achieved. After twenty years of research and development, this advance is an accomplishment for researchers at the CEA, located on the Saclay plateau (Essonne).

Axial sections of human brain, with identical acquisition time but with different intensity of the magnetic field.– CEA

Impressive performance

To obtain these images from the brains of volunteers, only four minutes were needed. The MRI has a magnetic field of 11.7 Tesla.

To get an idea, “it would theoretically take several hours on an MRI implanted in the hospital (1.5 or 3 Tesla)” to obtain the same result. Which would be “unrealistic for the comfort of the patient and because their movements would “blur” the image”, communicates the CEA.

The features of the scanner are dizzying. Iseult works, for example, with a 132-ton magnet, 5 m long and as wide. Magnet which is cooled to – 271.35 °C, with the help of 7,500 liters of liquid helium. Finally, it takes 5 hours for the MRI to ramp up.

Better understand certain diseases

Such precise resolution will make it possible to acquire information previously beyond the reach of conventional scanners. Iseult should thus be able to “understand how our brain encodes our mental representations, our learning or even discover what are the neuronal signatures of the state of consciousness”, informs the CEA.

Likewise, this technological advance should also translate into medical research, with better diagnoses of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

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