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First human brain map indicates a striking similarity between our brains

Published by under Bio-Sciences,News categories on May 6, 2011

3D Brain image from two donors.The Allen Institute for Brain Science has recently announced the world’s first definitive map of the human brain. Astonishingly, the anatomical and genetic data from donors revealed even 94 percent similarity between human brains. Moreover, at least 82 percent of all human genes are expressed in the brain. This unique online public resource will facilitate future progress of neuroscience research.  By Dr. Sanja Pavlica.

Digital brain atlases are essential tools in neuroscience research. In 2006, the Allen Institute for Brain Science has mapped adult mouse brain which was widely accessible and usable to the global research community. It triggered the discoveries of new knowledge enabling collaborations within rodent brain research community. Over 500 peer-reviewed papers cited the Allen Mouse Brain Atlas having big implications by revolutionising both basic and translation research within community.

Novel approach and high-output technology enabled the prestigious Allen Institute to make extraordinary gene map of the human brain that is quite challenging in human brain research. Now several different kinds of data (magnetic resonance imaging -MRI, diffusion tensor imaging-DTI, histology and gene expression data obtained from both microarray and in situ hybridization methods) are integrated into the Atlas across different scales to explore human brains. Installation of Brain Explorer 2, a desktop software application, is offered for free for viewing the human brain anatomy and gene expression data in 3D.

The Allen Human Brain Atlas will have crucial role in further biomedical research with implications to explore various neurological and neurodegenerative diseases such as schizophrenia, autism, obesity, drug addiction, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and more. This powerful online tool will open new questions about our most important organ, too.

New information from additional human brains will expand the Allen Human Brain Atlas in the coming years advancing our understanding of the tremendous complexity of brain function in healthy and pathological conditions (see www.brain-map.org).

About the author :

Dr. Sanja Pavlica is scientist leader in biotechnology research at  the University of Leipzig, Germany, and member of the European Medical Writers Association (EMWA).


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