Thinking toys

When I worked (briefly) on an fMRI study, one of the most fun things was to mess with the MRI viewing software (I think it was DICOM? Maybe?); once you have a little bit of a grasp of neuroanatomy, paging through the sagittal slices of a real live brain is utterly fascinating (even cooler was the Diffusion Tensor Imaging viewing plug-in, actually — realtime flybys of axonal bundles! It looked like some cheesy brain visualization from Nova, but it was actual connections between different functional areas in an actual brain). The problem with the technique is that it’s a little bit of an imaginative leap in some ways to understand the three-dimensional topographies we’re talking about; where is the amygdala in relation to the motor cortex, what’s below what, what’s inside of what, that sort of thing. In that context, this wooden block MRI is just amazing. A brain scan rendered real, three-dimensional, and tactile: I so want to play with it. Actually, you could combine this approximate idea with the haptic game control system I blogged about earlier and develop a pretty epic interface for looking at functional scans; instead of pasting the imaged on the blocks, render the block scan based on the sections visible on camera.

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