The 3D model of a cadaver floats like a hologram in front of neuroscientist and dentist Alexandre DaSilva. Using a video-game controller, he can slice away sections of the body, as well as turn and zoom in on it for a more detailed view of its anatomy. This tech not only could help medical students virtually dissect cadavers but also allow scientists to peer into everything from mastodons to hurricanes.
“It’s amazing. It’s like the film Fantastic Voyage—we really get immersed in the human body,” says DaSilva, director of the Headache and Orofacial Pain Effort lab at the University of Michigan’s School of Dentistry and the Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute. “You can cut into the brain, jump into the body. The experience is really inspiring.”
The 3D model for the cadaver comes from the Visible Human Project, which froze a dead man and woman in blocks of gelatin in the 1990s and cut them into many thin slices to scan. The researchers are currently using the model of the woman, made of more than 5100 TIFF images each with a resolution of one-third of a millimeter. The model is projected onto the walls and floor of a 10 x 10 x 10‚Äìfoot space known as the Michigan Immersive Digital Experience Nexus (MIDEN). DaSilva and colleagues have used MIDEN to study brain scans of migraine sufferers to track changes at the molecular level; now the system is ready to expand to more ambitious tasks….
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