More than a week after President Barack Obama announced the $100 million BRAIN Initiative that seeks to map the brain and find cures for a number of diseases, researchers from the National Institute of Health, NIH, announced they have developed a way to make the brain that bares all — literally.

It turns out that the workings of the brain could be observed through the application of a transparency gel using a technique called CLARITY. CLARITY stands for Clear Lipid-exchanged Anatomically Rigid Imaging/immunostaining-compatible Tissue hYdrogel.

Your brain (and everyone else's) is kept intact by lipids, or fat. CLARITY works by replacing these lipids with a special gel that makes it possible for scientists to image the brain at high resolutions

In this particular study, the gel was applied to a mouse brain. Even at the cellular and molecular level, the molecules were observed through the fluorescent proteins that the mouse was genetically altered to express.

"CLARITY has the potential to unmask fine details of brains from people with brain disorders without losing larger-scale circuit perspective," said NIH Director Francis S. Collins.

Researchers said that the process can help them better understand the activities of proteins and molecules while keeping the wiring of the nerve cells intact. Previous access to these functions were tedious and potentially damaging, involving cutting brain tissue into thin slices thereby damaging the tissue.

The gel concoction was made using formaldehyde and a plastic-like material; both were heated to create a permeable gel that meshed with the brain's tissues.

Even a post-mortem human brain from an individual who was autistic was analyzed. Although formaldehyde toughened the tissue after six years, researchers tracked the nerve fibers and bodies and extensions of nerve cells.

"This feat of chemical engineering promises to transform the way we study the brain's anatomy and how disease changes it," said Thomas R. Insel, director of National Institute of Mental Health. "No longer will the in-depth study of our most important three-dimensional organ be constrained by two-dimensional methods."

CLARITY could help scientists learn more about and treat a wide range of brain conditions. According to research conducted at the McGovern Institute at MIT, brain diseases such as Alzheimer's are diagnosed to 5.4 million people in the United States, and as baby boomers age, the disease is likely to become more and more prevalent — unless new treatments emerge. Parkinson's disease is much more difficult to detect; it is estimated that 50,000 new cases surface each year. Other disorders, such as autism (which affects one in 88 children in the United States) develop in childhood and are categorized as lifelong conditions.

The video below demonstrates how CLARITY could provide a better 3D tour of the brain.