Take a Wild Look Inside the Human Brain, Revealed By Stanford Neuroscientists

To better understand how our brains work, scientists at Stanford have made part of a human brain, and whole mouse brains, transparent.

Doing so could help cure a range of illnesses. It's the latest advancement in neuroscience, a field that seems to be following a version of Moore’s law and developing at an exponential rate.

In the Stanford study, researchers engineered a new way to map the brain. Post-mortem brains are injected with a water-based gel that moves through the circuitry and allows researchers to watch. You can see how the brain functions and better understand and treat or potentially cure schizophrenia, autism, or bipolar disorder. 

“I burned and melted more than a hundred brains,” said Kwanghun Chung, the primary author of the Stanford paper. Now “I have a transparent liver, lungs and heart.”


The advances in neuroscience seem to be coming more quickly, at a similar rate to one that's common in technology. Discovery unlocks even more potential discoveries. From 1900-1940 we went from Sigmund Freud interpreting dreams to doctors performing frontal lobotomies. In the past few years, we’ve started regrowing brain cells, making $99 kits that read your genes and engineering brains to light up like glowsticks. Once there’s momentum, the possibilities open up.

What will President Obama's $100 million brain initiative unlock?

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Michael McCutcheon

Michael was formerly special projects editor at Mic. Prior to that, he worked at the Open Society Foundations on electoral reform. A native Seattleite, he's still mad about the SuperSonics.

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