First Images From Complete Map of Mouse Brain
Despite plenty of advances in neuroscience, often what we know about the brain comes with gaps, and anything close to...
Despite plenty of advances in neuroscience, often what we know about the brain comes with gaps, and anything close to a full piece of knowledge always ends up lacking something — whether it’s for the human brain or a mouse’s.
Researchers from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory are starting to remedy that — the mouse version, at least — by developing a full, 3-D, virtual map of a vertebrate brain. Now they’ve let the public in on the first chapter of the research: 500 terabytes of mouse brain.
The 3-D image is actually several cross-sections of different brains, each made up from slices of mice brains from a similar demographic (age, gender, etc.) and overlaid to let a viewer zoom in on a specific point and follow individual neuropathways. Each slice is made up of 500 images, but each image contains close to a billion pixels, meaning the project is going for the kind of resolution the complexity of a vertebrate’s complete brain requires. It’s part of the Mouse Brain Architecture Project, and what’s especially surprising is that this kind of resolution is actually a nice middle-ground; MRIs don’t provide as much detail, but with electron microscopy you can’t do much better than the complexity of a fruit fly’s brain. And even at this level, there’s a lot of data to handle: this couldn’t have been done a decade ago with data storage prices.
Next stop? More mouse brain pictures, probably. The human brain is an even bigger, more complicated beast, and successfully putting that together means a lot of bytes.