Blue Brain images on show at the Brain(s) exhibition in Spain

© 2022 EPFL

© 2022 EPFL

The EPFL Blue Brain Project will be featuring in the exciting Brain(s) exhibition at the Barcelona Centre of Contemporary Culture starting this month and later in the year at the Fundación Telefónica Madrid.

Brain(s) explores the anatomy of the brain by combining historical, scientific and artistic material. In the ‘connectomics’ section of the exhibition, Blue Brain will be showcasing through a series of data-driven and highly detailed visualizations, results from our scientific research into the rodent brain. The visualizations on display will take the audience on a journey through the anatomy of the rodent brain from a high-level overview of the two hemispheres, right down to the neuro-glia-vasculature unit – the brain’s power source.

With our data-driven research approach, the Blue Brain is building, biological brick by biological brick, the first draft digital reconstruction of the entire mouse brain. The project has already passed several key milestones that provide compelling evidence that the world will soon see the first digital mouse brain. The milestones include a map accounting for approximately 70 million neurons (and the same number of glial cells) in the entire mouse brain, algorithms that can automatically recreate the actual behaviour of every one of these neurons, and algorithms that can pinpoint almost 100 billion synapses that connect these neurons and recreate how these neurons communicate with one another. Most recently, Blue Brain has created the first digital reconstruction of the brain’s power source – the Neuro-Glia-Vascular Architecture which provides a new framework to study brain function in health and disease.

A key element within this data-driven research approach is Scientific Visualization. Scientific Visualization transforms the digital models of brain tissue and large-scale simulations into representations that can be inspected by scientists. In a way, Scientific Visualization is very similar to what a microscope is for an experimentalist, it makes things visible to the researcher’s eye. Scientific Visualization for in silico neuroscience makes aspects of the models visible that otherwise would only exist as numbers in a computer. For example, we can attribute a color to a particular type of neuron to discriminate one neuron from another. Or, we can give a specific color to the electric potential of a neuron, making it possible to “see” the electrical integration neurons perform. What Scientific Visualization ensures in all these cases is that the transformation of the source data to the output image is quantitative, controlled and reproducible.

“With the importance, we attach to the visualization stage of our workflow, this fantastic exhibition is an excellent opportunity to share with the visitors in high definition and with immense detail, visualisations of the rodent brain that the Project has reconstructed and simulated to date,” says Prof, Henry Markram, Founder and Director of the Blue Brain.

“For people further interested in data visualization and scientific exploration, the images in the Brain(s) exhibition were created using the open source software Blue Brain Bio Explorer built by Cyrille Favreau, which was also used in 2021, to show the main impacts of high glucose in Airway Surface Liquid on the primary step of coronavirus infections in the lung and explain the increased susceptibility to respiratory viruses in at-risk patients. The BioExplorer has been designed not only to visualize datasets but also to make it easy to explore them, in an interactive way. And, it makes it easy to select what should be explored further (via a database). Open sourcing our data, models and software is a key element of our work at the Blue Brain and we bring them all together under one umbrella on our knowledge space for simulation neuroscience - the Blue Brain Portal,” continues Prof. Henry Markram. “Here you will also find a state-of-the-art modular visualization architecture for large data visualization. Our open source approach not only benefits scientific progress but here we are enabling the public to see the brain and science in a totally unique way”.


“Brains(s)” is at the Barcelona Centre of Contemporary Culture from 27 July to 11 December 2022, and at the Fundación Telefónica Madrid from 22 December 2022 to 16 June 2023

Find out more about the exhibition -

Read about Scientific Visualization at the Blue Brain Project -

The vasculature data used in two of Blue Brain’s images at the exhibition is courtesy of the David Kleinfeld Laboratory, UC San Diego (Xiang Ji et al. 2021) and Bruno Weber, ETH Zurich.