The Art of Imaging – Competition

Images are a powerful means of teaching and communicating, and an excellent way to reach a broad and diverse audience to increase the impact and awareness of scientific research. In the field of bio-imaging, we are lucky to produce data that is often inherently ripe with aesthetic and scientific value. Even images that are not necessarily visually beautiful can be intriguing or captivating, and can stimulate curiosity or other emotions.

In 2021, QBIN launched its first Art of Imaging Competition. From microscopy to MRI, we want to showcase the wide variety of topics covered by our network’s members to spark curiosity and inspire viewers to learn more about bio-imaging research conducted in Quebec and around the world, and how it impacts their lives.

Two prizes were awarded for the best submitted images: The People’s Choice Award was selected by online popular vote, and the Jury Award was selected by a panel of QBIN committee members. Winners were awarded $200 as well as the opportunity to have their image included in our next live Art of Imaging exhibition.

If you would like to learn more about the intersection of art and imaging science, read our related blog post by Carlos Gevers-Montoro and Zoha Deldar, The Art of Imaging: Science meets beauty.

Congratulations to the winners!

Jury Award

A leaf out of the little brain

Jemal Yesuf

The cerebellum (Latin for “little-brain”) is a structurally fascinating part of the brain located inside the posterior base of the head. Fittingly named little-brain, the cerebellum appears as a separate entity in the brain packed with an estimated 69 billion neurons, roughly 4 times as many neurons as in the rest of the brain, while accounting for a minuscule 10% of the total brain volume in an adult human. On its surface, the cerebellum appears as a ball formed of evenly spaced and tightly packed parallel ridges (folds) and grooves. These folds are known as folia (singular = folium) for their leaf-like appearance. Each folium is composed of an outer “gray matter” populated by neurons and an inner “white matter” containing thread-like appendages known as axons through which neurons transmit their electrical signals. If we cut deep into the cerebellum, we can see the branchy cerebellar white matter with its tree-like appearance because of which, is referred to as the “arbor vitae” (Latin for “tree of life”). Through the arbor vitae, the cerebellum shares information within itself and the rest of the nervous system. This photo shows a human cerebellar folium stained for a group of proteins called neurofilaments that serve as building blocks of neuronal cells. Understanding cerebellar architecture is becoming increasingly crucial as the cerebellum grows in importance in the study of different brain disorders including autism and several degenerative diseases.

People’s Choice Award

Head full of bubbles

Chloé Bourquin

This image of a mouse brain was obtained by an injection of microbubbles. Rest assured, these are only a few micrometers in diameter: carried by the blood, they can travel all over the body into the smallest capillaries without causing damage. In our mouse, several million of them were followed by ultrasound imaging throughout the brain for about ten minutes: after precise localization of each microbubble, the image on the left was generated. The resulting resolution is better than that of conventional ultrasound imaging (right). Synchronization with the heart rate made these images dynamic. Thus, where MRI suffers from a lack of temporal resolution and where microscopy struggles to penetrate the surface of the brain by a few millimeters, we succeed here without surgery in filming the blood throughout the brain at 1000 images per second and with a resolution of a few micrometers. This technique could help to better understand the dynamics of blood flow: indeed, a stiffening of aging arteries in the heart can induce an increase in the variation of the speed of blood flow in the brain, microhemorrhages, and ultimately neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia. These could therefore be diagnosed more quickly with this method, in order to stop their progression before the damage is too significant.