A new immersive virtual reality (VR) experience is offering a groundbreaking way of visualising and interacting with 3D brain scans like never before, university researchers have teased.
Users wearing VR goggles will be able to go inside a mouse brain and view it at a "cellular resolution" for the first time. The experience will include a set of hand-held pointers to allow for a more natural interaction with the scans and let participants "slice and zoom" on certain parts.
The system was designed by researchers from the Wyss Centre for Bio and Neuroengineering and the University of Geneva – with plans underway to use it for in-depth research and surgeon training.
It is being described by the team as a way for the scientists to better analyse data produced by Wyss Centre's own "custom lightsheet microscope" technology, based in Geneva, Switzerland.
That cutting-edge microscope is able to produce high-resolution images of brain scans and is able to image individual neurons five times thinner than a human hair.
Now, with this new experience, experts are letting you explore the brains in awe-inspiring detail.
The VR system will be combined with software to accelerate the analysis of imaging data and simplify the identification of structures that can be difficult to recognise on a screen.
Dr Stéphane Pages, scientist at the Wyss Centre and senior research associate at the University of Geneva, commented: "The immense data volumes produced by today's high-performance microscopes are driving the development of new methods to visualise the brain.
"We have developed this virtual reality system to reconstruct cellular level neuroanatomical data in 3D space. The system provides a practical solution to experience, analyse and quickly understand these exquisite, high-resolution images," said Pages.
The system will be presented on 15 November at the Society for Neuroscience 2017 in Washington DC.