3D-printed transparent mouse skull could be a window for studying Alzheimer's and head injury

Scientists are developing a & # 39; window to the brain & # 39 ;: 3D-printed & # 39; skull & # 39; enables experts to stare into the head of a mouse in real time and could someday help with conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's

  • The implant can be used to surgically replace part of the animal's head
  • Brains of mice are similar to those of humans and are therefore useful for medical research
  • Scientists can see large parts of the brain to view electrical activity

A transparent mouse skull that can be used as a window on the brain can provide new insights into human brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers have developed the implant as an & # 39; unprecedented & # 39; way to monitor and visualize brain activity.

This is called the See-Shell, it is a 3D-printed replica of the animal's skull that can be used to surgically replace part of the mouse's head.

Once the See-Shell has been placed, researchers can record both brain activity and take photos of the surface of the brain in real-time.


With the See-Shell, scientists can see the brains of mice in real time and visualize changes in electrical activity as different parts of the organ are stimulated

With the See-Shell, scientists can see the brains of mice in real time and visualize changes in electrical activity as different parts of the organ are stimulated

Scientists from the University of Minnesota have developed the implant to better understand the functioning of the living brain.

And because mouse brains are so similar to human brains, what the See-Shell demonstrates could be translated into medical medical research.

It can shed light on diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and injuries such as concussions.

Timothy Ebner, a co-author of the study, said: “These are studies that we could not do in humans, but they are extremely important in our understanding of how the brain works so that we can improve treatments for people who experience brain injury or illness. & # 39;

With the implant, researchers can see what happens to the surface of a part of the brain – the cortex – when they stimulate different parts of the organ.


In the past they were limited to viewing small pieces piece by piece, unable to link events to what might happen elsewhere in the head.

Images produced by the team already show how filming the brain could work in this way.

Photos show that the brain seems to glow at other times and then darken, with clearer images showing moments of more intense nerve activity.

Suhasa Kodandaramaiah, another author of the article, said: & # 39; With this new device we can look at brain activity at the smallest level and zoom in on specific neurons while we get a big picture of a big one over time part of the brain surface.

& # 39; Developing the device and showing it works is just the start of what we can do to promote brain research. & # 39;


Another special advantage of the See-Shell is that the body of the mouse accepted the implant.

The research is published in the journal Nature Communications.


Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, degenerative brain disease, where the build-up of abnormal proteins causes nerve cells to die.

This disrupts the transmitters that transmit messages and causes the brain to shrink.

More than 5 million people suffer from the disease in the US, where it is the 6th leading cause of death.



As brain cells die, the functions they offer are lost.

That includes memory, orientation and the ability to think and reason.

The progress of the disease is slow and gradual.

On average, patients live five to seven years after diagnosis, but some can live ten to 15 years.



  • Loss of short-term memory
  • disorientation
  • Behavioral changes
  • Mood swings
  • Problems handling money or making a phone call


  • Severe memory loss, forgotten family members, known objects or places
  • Becoming anxious and frustrated about the inability to understand the world, leading to aggressive behavior
  • Eventually loses the ability to walk
  • May have problems with food
  • The majority will eventually need care 24 hours a day

Source: Alzheimer's & # 39; s Association

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