What’s the Latest Development?
Neuroscientists at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory have published the first data set to come from a project that will create the world’s first whole-brain wiring diagram of a vertebrate, specifically a mouse. “The data consist of gigapixel images (each close to 1 billion pixels) of whole-brain sections that can be zoomed to show individual neurons and their processes, providing a ‘virtual microscope.'” By changing the resolution of the images, scientists and interested members of the public can view the brain’s neural pathways through three-dimensional brain space.
What’s the Big Idea?
Fundamental questions about how the brain works will remain unanswered until wiring diagrams are completed for different species, said Francis Crick, whose partner in the discovery of DNA’s double-helix, James Watson, actively supports the CSHL project. Partha Mitra, director of the Mouse Brain Architecture Project said: “Our project is what I’d call a necessary first step in a much larger enterprise, that of understanding both structure and dynamics of the vertebrate, and ultimately, the human brain.” She believes the project will allow scientists to ‘hang’ their disparate neuroscientific knowledge around a central post.
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