3D model of a rat brain's synapse

Many know that brains are inherently complex things; there are trillions of synapses converting chemical and electrical signals in a human mind. However, did you know that even those synapses are very complex? If not, it should be perfectly clear now. German scientists have used a mix of extremely high-resolution microscopes (both electron and fluorescent), mass spectrometry and protein detection to create a super-detailed 3D map of a synapse in a rat's brain. It's almost like a miniscule city -- those dots you see represent 300,000 proteins, and only a tiny portion (the glowing red patch at the bottom) is transmitting chemicals.

Such 3D models aren't just for putting on a show. While scientists are usually focused on individual protein types that could trigger conditions or lead to treatments, digital maps can help them understand how those proteins fit into a greater whole. If nothing else, this rendering is a friendly reminder that recreating the brain is a daunting task.