Scientists design first ever brain atlas

September 20th, 2012 - 7:04 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 20 (IANS) Scientists have designed a comprehensive and interactive brain atlas, accessible on the internet to advance neurological research.

The Allen Institute for Brain Science, Seattle, US, created the atlas as a kind of ready reckoner for researchers to compare and contrast their own findings from brain scans and genetic surveys, to unveil more secrets about psychiatric conditions.

The atlas was created from the scans of three ‘clinically unremarkable’ brains - donated following the deaths of a 24-year-old and 39-year-old man, and half a brain from a third man.

There are more than 20,000 genes in the human genome, with 84 percent of them being concentrated within the human brain, according to the Daily Mail.

To create the atlas, the scientists scanned the brains, before chopping them into small pieces. For each piece, they scanned for and recorded the activity levels of the 20,000 genes.

When the scans of the two complete brains were compared to each other, the team found what they believe is a ‘genetic blueprint’ for how the brain may be mapped out - with so many similarities in gene placement and usage. Their next aim is to scan a female brain to see how it compares to the other gender.

Seth Grant, professor at Edinburgh University, who helped create the map, said: “The human brain is the most complex structure known to mankind and one of the greatest challenges in modern biology is to understand how it is built and organised. This allows us for the first time to overlay the human genome on to the human brain.”

Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics have already announced they will use the map to help research genes and brain symmetry. More than 4,000 other researchers have already used the tool.

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