Image of the Week

Information Flow

  • Published5 Feb 2019
  • Reviewed5 Feb 2019
  • Author Michael W. Richardson
  • Source BrainFacts/SfN

Diffusion magnentic resonance image (DMI) of the brain
Katja Heuer and Roberto Toro

Brain cells communicate with each other by sending electrical signals that travel down long axons, connecting various parts of the brain. One way to map these connections is by tracking how water molecules move through the brain, a technique called diffusion weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DWI). Water can flow down the length of an axon but can’t penetrate the fatty insulation wrapped around its membrane — by observing which direction water travels, scientists can deduce the path an axon takes through the brain. Using this data, researchers can create complex maps of the interlocking information highways in our heads.

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