Micro3D: computer program for three-dimensional reconstruction visualization, and analysis of neuronal populations and barin regions

Int J Neurosci. 2006 Apr;116(4):515-40. doi: 10.1080/00207450500506025.


This article presents a computer program, Micro3D, designed for 3-D reconstruction, visualization, and analysis of coordinate-data (points and lines) recorded from serial sections. The software has primarily been used for studying shapes and dimension of brain regions (contour line data) and distributions of cellular elements such as neuronal cell bodies or axonal terminal fields labeled with tract-tracing techniques (point data). The tissue elements recorded could equally well be labeled with use of other techniques, the only requirement being that the data collected are saved as x,y,z coordinates. Data are typically imported from image-combining computerized microscopy systems or image analysis systems, such as Neurolucida (MicroBrightField, Colchester, VT) or analySIS (Soft Imaging System, Gmbh, Münster, Germany). System requirements are a PC running LINUX. Reconstructions in Micro3D may be rotated and zoomed in real-time, and submitted to perspective viewing and stereo-imaging. Surfaces are re-synthesized on the basis of stacks of contour lines. Clipping is used for defining section-independent subdivisions of the reconstruction. Flattening of curved sheets of points layers (e.g., neurons in a layer) facilitates inspection of complicated distribution patterns. Micro3D computes color-coded density maps. Opportunities for translation of data from different reconstructions into common coordinate systems are also provided. This article demonstrates the use of Micro3D for visualization of complex neuronal distribution patterns in somatosensory and auditory systems. The software is available for download on conditions posted at the NeSys home pages (http://www.nesys.uio.no/) and at The Rodent Brain Workbench (http://www.rbwb.org/).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cats
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Software*