For the first time, scientists have detected a giant neuron wrapped around the entire circumference of a mouse's brain, and it's so densely connected across both hemispheres, it could finally explain the origins of consciousness.
Using a new imaging technique, the team detected the giant neuron emanating from one of the best-connected regions in the brain, and say it could be coordinating signals from different areas to create conscious thought.
This recently discovered neuron is one of three that have been detected for the first time in a mammal's brain, and the new imaging technique could help us figure out if similar structures have gone undetected in our own brains for centuries.
At a recent meeting of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies initiative in Maryland, a team from the Allen Institute for Brain Science described how all three neurons stretch across both hemispheres of the brain, but the largest one wraps around the organ's circumference like a "crown of thorns".
You can see them highlighted in the image at the top of the page.
Lead researcher Christof Koch told Sara Reardon at Nature that they've never seen neurons extend so far across both regions of the brain before.
Oddly enough, all three giant neurons happen to emanate from a part of the brain that's shown intriguing connections to human consciousness in the past - the claustrum, a thin sheet of grey matter that could be the most connected structure in the entire brain, based on volume.
Via Wildcat2030, Miloš Bajčetić, Tania Gammage, CineversityTV