Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fly through a mouse brain!

What do you do when you want to see what is inside a mouse's head?

In the past, you had to:
1. Find a mouse.
2. Kill said mouse.
3. Remove brain (the mouse's, not your own).
4. Fix brain (even if it wasn't broken to begin with) in formaldehyde or some other chemical.
5. Embed brain in wax.
6. Cut brain into teeny tiny slices.
7. Try to get one of those slices to sit flat on a slide.
8. Stain the brain slice.
9. Look at it under an expensive microscope.
10. Try to figure out what you are looking at.

Now, through the wonders of modern Interwebology, you need not go through the toil and trouble and smell. Now we have The Mouse Brain Library. For the librarians among my loyal readership, this is not the kind of library where you walk through the stacks until you find a brain on the shelves that might look interesting, then check it out with your library card.

No, indeed. This is the kind of library that lets you look inside a mouse's brain without leaving the comfort of your favorite coffee shop. You can even watch movies.

Here's my favorite. It's a trip through a mouse head, starting at the top and going down. This one shows structure of the surrounding head, as well as the brain. The nose is to the right and the back of the head is to the left. You can see the eyes, white circles at the top and bottom of the image. Between them lie the olfactory bulbs, responsible for smell. (The sense of smell that is. The smelliness comes from the other end of the mouse.) You can also see the spiraling chambers of the nasal cavities.

And that ends our tour through a mouse's head. I hope you enjoyed it. Watch your step as you leave the tour bus.