Leveraging Blender to model and visualize the neuro-glia-vascular (NGV) ensemble

During the last few years, Blender expanded to be an essential tool for modeling and visualization in large-scale scientific projects.
In the Blue Brain Project, we build digitally reconstructed models of brain structures to simulate their functional aspects.We use Blender for modeling, interactive visualization, visual analysis, physically based rendering and even to construct watertight mesh models of the NGV structures. Resulting models are employed in biophysically plausible simulations, allowing us to study structure-function relationships at cellular level.
Relying on the modeling toolsets and advanced capabilities, we designed two sister plugins that are domain-specific and widely used by the neuroscientific community. NeuroMorphoVis and VessMorphoVis are primarily used by neuroscientists and neuroanatomists to visualize, analyze, repair and to mesh morphological models of the NGV ensemble including neurons, astrocytes and large networks of cerebral vasculature. We will present a few solid use cases to demonstrate the significant role of Blender in the context of scientific visualization, mainly in our mission to digitally reconstruct and simulate the mouse brain.