The research group “Fiber Architecture (FA)” develops the 3D Polarized Light Imaging (3D-PLI) technology to reveal the structural connectivity and fiber architecture in post mortem brains at microscopic resolution.
3D-PLI measures the birefringence (optic anisotropy) of myelinated nerve fibers with polarization microscopy techniques. It gives contrast to distinct nerve fibers and their tracts, and makes estimations of their spatial courses possible. Moreover, its sensitivity to myelin makes 3D-PLI well suited to address pathological alterations of the brain’s fiber architecture.
To understand the brain’s connectivity patterns over different scales, we develop novel imaging techniques that study e.g. the scattering of light in brain tissue. Furthermore, we establish protocols and methods to combine 3D-PLI with complementary imaging methods, including Diffusion MRI, 3D-PLI, Two-Photon Fluorescence Microscopy, Mass Spectrometry Imaging, and X-ray Diffraction.
The introduction of instruments for automated imaging of entire brains and computational methods for handling the massive data sets has opened the door to neuroanatomical studies at an unprecedented scale. 3D-PLI combines research topics in a truly interdisciplinary manner: polarization microscopy technologies, modern signal and image processing algorithms, big data analytics, and cutting-edge simulation approaches, all based on high-performance computing.