by Miryam Muller in

Combining visual clarity with a Web-based digital map interface, computer scientists have created 2-dimensional software to examine neural connections in the human brain.

A computer program advances analysis of the neural connections in the human brain and includes a linked view for users to view both the 3-D image (top) and 2-D closeups of the neural bundles.

The program could help scientists better understand myelinated axons, which are linked to a variety of pathologies, including autism.

The bundles of individual nerves that transmit information from one part of the brain to the other, like fiber-optic cables, are so intricate and so interwoven that they can be difficult to trace through standard imaging techniques.

The goal of the new software is simplicity. The planar maps extract the neural bundles from the imaging data and present them in 2-D—a format familiar to medical professionals working with brain models and the web interface integrates the neural maps into a geographical digital maps framework that professionals can use seamlessly to explore the data.

“In short, we have developed a new way to make 2-D diagrams that illustrate 3-D connectivity in human brains,” says David Laidlaw, professor of computer science at Brown University. “You can see everything here that you can’t really see with the bigger (3-D) images.”

The National Institutes of Health funded the research.

Read more http://news.brown.edu