Neuroscience: Making Connections
Is a project to map the brain’s full communications network worth the money?
A building that once housed a Second World War torpedo factory seems an unlikely location for a project aiming to map the human brain. But the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging — an outpost of the Massachusetts General Hospital in an industrialized stretch of Boston’s riverfront — is home to an impressive collection of magnetic resonance imaging machines. In January, I slid into the newest of these, head first. The operator ran a few test sequences to see whether I experienced any side effects from the unusually rapid changes in this machine’s magnetic field. And, when I didn’t — no involuntary muscle twitches or illusory flashes of light in my peripheral vision — we began. The machine hummed, then started to vibrate. For 90 minutes, I held still as it scanned my brain.