One of the keys towards understanding how the brain works as a whole is visualisation of how the individual cells function. In particular, the more morphologically accurate the visualisation can be, the easier it is for experts in the biological field to validate cell structures; photo-realistic rendering is therefore important.
The Blue Brain Project has made major efforts to create morphologically accurate
neurons to simulate sub-cellular and electrical activities, e.g. molecular
simulations of neuron biochemistry or multi-scale simulations of neuronal
function. Ray-tracing can help to highlight areas of the circuits where cells
touch each other and where synapses are being created. In combination with
‘global illumination’, which uses light, shadow, and depth of field effects to
simulate photo-realistic images, this technique makes it easier to visualise how
the neurons function.
Brayns is a minimalistic visualiser that can perform ray-traced rendering of
neurons. It provides an abstraction of the underlying rendering engines, so that
the best possible acceleration libraries can be used for the relevant hardware.
Here is its story: