The Universe Within: Wired for Action

This is your brain. Actually, this is your brain’s white matter as seen using a technique called diffusion tensor imaging.

White matter and grey matter are the brain’s two main components. White matter, actually pinkish white to the naked eye, works like wiring inside the brain. The tissue transmits signals from one region of the cerebrum to another, as well as to the brainstem and spinal column. Signals from white matter are crucial to accessing memories and to controlling language, movement and behavior.  Multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease are examples of diseases that affect white matter functions.

Scientists use diffusion tensor imaging to study the function of white matter fibers and to measure the impact of traumatic injury or disease. This type of imaging also can be used to plan brain surgery and to assess recovery after an operation.

This image was provided by Weihong Yuan, PhD, a researcher in the Pediatric Neuroimaging Research Consortium at Cincinnati Children’s.  The colors identify the white matter fibers according to their roles in brain function. Click here to learn more about brain imaging and research at Cincinnati Children’s.

Tim Bonfield

About the Author: Tim Bonfield

Tim Bonfield is an associate in Marketing & Communications at Cincinnati Children's. He joined the medical center in 2009 after 17 years at the Cincinnati Enquirer as an award-winning health beat writer, assistant local news editor and Butler-Warren bureau chief. Tim is a proud Cincinnati native and the frazzled father of two teen daughters.

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