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MIT invents AI powered microscope to better scan brains

November 6, 2023


Have you ever wondered how the brain works? How billions of tiny cells called neurons communicate with each other to produce thoughts, feelings, and actions? Well, you are not alone. Scientists have been trying to figure out the secrets of the brain for a long time, and one of their methods is called connectomics.


Connectomics is the study of the brain's network of synapses and neurons, which are the connections and cells that transmit information in the brain. To map this network, scientists use powerful electron microscopes that can capture images of the brain at nanometer resolution, which is about a billionth of a meter. That's like zooming in on a grain of sand until you can see every atom!


However, there is a problem. The brain is so complex and large that it would take a very long time to image it completely using traditional electron microscopy. Imagine trying to take a picture of every single leaf on a tree, and then stitching them together to make a map of the whole tree. That would be tedious and time-consuming, right?


That's why researchers from MIT and Harvard have come up with a smart solution. They have invented a technology and software that combines artificial intelligence (AI) and electron microscopy to speed up the process of brain mapping. They call it SmartEM, and it works like this: The AI learns from the images as they are acquired, and decides which areas of the brain are more important or interesting to focus on. Then, it directs the microscope beam to those areas, and captures more details and information. This way, the AI acts like a brain that helps the microscope see better, just like how animals use their eyes to inspect their surroundings.


The researchers say that SmartEM can help connectomics research and clinical pathology, which are the fields that study how the brain's structure relates to its function and diseases. By using SmartEM, they hope to unlock the mysteries of cognition and the causes of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.


If you want to learn more about SmartEM and how it works, you can read the original article below. Isn't it amazing how AI can help us understand ourselves better? Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more of the latest news in artificial intelligence!


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