Understanding the brain is one of the most ambitious scopes of science. The way neuroscientists have approached the problem ranged from the molecular level up to the higher cognitive functions in humans, to advance toward elucidating the many unsolved questions about the brain. More and more collaborative projects all over the world have been launched and founded for billions of dollars to enhance collaboration and push labs all over the world to join forces, collect diverse competences and share data. Our team of neuroscientist, computer scientists and visualization experts is interested in the structural basis of neural energetics and part of our work involves data visualization where Blender comes to play a huge role.
In our work we look at the distribution of glycogen granules, a major energy source for the brain, compared to synapses, the sites where neurons share information between each other. From a technical point of view, we are solving the problem of measuring distances of centroids of spheres to their nearest neighbour, as well as implementing clustering algorithms in 3D space.
To this purpose, with the aid of Blender software, this work started with coding a bunch of python scripts then run them in Blender’s editor in order to perform analysis in 3D. With the aid of blender-python API, we wrapped up everything into a single blender addon under the name ‘Glycogen Analysis’, for it to be simple and efficient to perform analysis in 3D as well as export results. Glycogen Analysis work has been recently published in the Journal of Comparative Neurology, and is strictly depending on another blender addon package, NeuroMorph.