The vivid images used throughout this site are based on advanced techniques developed at the Center for Brain Science (CBS) at Harvard University. To trace the pathways that interconnect different brain regions, CBS developed a genetic method to label each individual nerve cell a different color to identify and track axons and dendrites over long distances. With light microscopy, CBS scientists image the branching patterns and connections of all the axons within a region of the nervous system in transgenic mice that express a number of different fluorescent proteins in individual neurons. These stunning CBS images have been further digitally manipulated through the eyes of an artist for use on this website, representing the convergence of science and human creativity that is at the soul of FORUM.
This image depicts neurons in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, a region of the brain that is critical to episodic memory and memory recall. The dentate gyrus is one of the few regions of the brain capable of adult neurogenesis, the creation of new neurons.
Here we see axons in the brainstem that are connecting higher neural centers such as the cerebral cortex and lower neural centers such as the spinal cord.
These neurons are part of the cerebellum. Beyond its well-known role in motor function, the cerebellum also plays a role in motor reflex learning, according to functional imaging studies.
The dentate gyrus, shown here, receives input from the cerebral cortex and plays an integral role in learning and memory. It also receives a modulatory cholinergic input from the basal forebrain that has a role in the regulation of memory formation.
Source: Livet, Weissman, Sanes, and Lichtman. Harvard University.