Rainbow ‘bird’s nest’ MRI reveals how a heart beats
(Image: Laurence Jackson)
This is not a colourful bird’s nest: it is the collection of muscle fibres that work together to make a mouse heart beat.
The vivid MRI picture was captured using diffusion tensor imaging, which tracks the movement of fluid through tissue, using different colours to represent the orientation of the strands.
The fibres, which spiral around the left ventricular cavity, curve in different directions around the inside and outside walls of the chamber. When the fibres pull against one another, the result is an upwards twisting motion that forces blood to be pumped out.
The image, which was the overall winner of the Research Images as Artcompetition at University College London last year, is currently on display at the Summer Science Exhibition taking place at the Royal Society in London. It is part of an exhibit showcasing future imaging techniques that will allow us to peer inside the body.
The precisely timed nature of contractions dictated by these processes allows the pumping of blood to occur in the right direction, reliably and effectively.