3D Scanning Technology Bridging Microcircuits and Macroscale Brain Images in 3D Novel Embedding Overlapping Protocol

This article has been accepted and is currently in production


The human brain, being a multiscale system, has both macroscopic electrical signals, globally flowing along thick white-matter fiber bundles, and microscopic neuronal spikes, propagating along axons and dendrites. Both scales complement different aspects of human cognitive and behavioral functions. At the macroscopic level, MRI has been the current standard imaging technology, in which the smallest spatial resolution, voxel size, is 0.1–1 mm3. Also, at the microscopic level, previous physiological studies were aware of nonuniform neuronal architectures within such voxels. This study develops a powerful way to accurately embed microscopic data into a macroscopic map by interfacing biological scientific research with technological advancements in 3D scanning technology. Since 3D scanning technology has mostly been used for engineering and industrial design until now, it is repurposed for the first time to embed microconnectomes into the whole brain while preserving natural spiking in living brain cells. In order to achieve this purpose, first, we constructed a scanning protocol to obtain accurate 3D images from living bio-organisms inherently challenging to image due to moist and reflective surfaces. Second, we trained to keep speed to prevent the degradation of living brain tissue, which is a key factor in retaining better conditions and recording more natural neuronal spikes from active neurons in the brain tissue. Two cortical surface images, independently extracted from two different imaging modules, namely MRI and 3D scanner surface images, surprisingly show a distance error of only 50 μm as mode value of the histogram. This accuracy is comparable in scale to the microscopic resolution of intercellular distances; also, it is stable among different individual mice. This new protocol, the 3D novel embedding overlapping (3D-NEO) protocol, bridges macroscopic and microscopic levels derived by this integrative protocol and accelerates new scientific findings to study comprehensive connectivity architectures (i.e., microconnectome).