Milestone Reached in Brain Mapping Project

Posted 13 Jun 2012 at 18:45 UTC by steve Share This

A CSH Lab news release says neuroscientists at the Brain Architecture Project have reached an important milestone. They've released the first installment of the 500 terabytes of data from the whole-brain wiring diagram of a mouse brain. The data is in the form of gigapixel whole-brain slice images. It's possible browse through the brain to the desired 20 micron-thick slice, then view the image, zooming it the level of individual neurons. Most importantly, the image data is being released in an open science initiative, freely available for anyone to view and use in their research. The technical approach used was developed by Partha P. Mitra.

"The pragmatic approach Mitra advocated and which is realized in this first data release, is to image whole mouse brains in a semi-automated, quality-controlled process using light microscopy and injected neural tracers (both viruses and classically used tracer substances). While the basic methodology has been available for some time, systematically applying it to a grid of locations spanning the entire brain, and digitizing and re-assembling the resulting collection of brains, is a new approach made feasible by the rapidly falling costs of computer storage."

For more details see the Mouse Brain Architecture Project Technical White Paper. This is just the first step in the overall brain architecture project. After the mouse brain, there's the Human Brain Architecture project which has the potential to do for the human brain what the human genome project did for our genes.

Braaaaaiiiiiinnnnnnsssss!, posted 15 Jun 2012 at 12:15 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

This is a cool project but if their goal is to create a mouse brain in a computer I really don't expect that they will be able to create a truly functioning mouse brain in a computer by scanning brain slices. It seems to me that the slicing process will either destructively cut neurons in half or can't truly map the axions since they go in every 3D direction, or because neurons are more complex then our current model of what a neuron is or it's really difficult to map the connection of one neuron on one squishy slice to a neuron on another squishy slice and make sure you have the right neuron or any number of other variables. If the goal of this project is just to map a mouse brain architecture, I think slicing and picture taking is the easy part and they've got their job cut out for them in really mapping. Other than that, it would be exciting to have a robot mouse until it started eating holes in the walls or whistling steamboat willy.

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