Mouse-brainThe Allen Institute for Brain Science has published a paper in Nature describing how they have posted a comprehensive data set on the wiring of a mouse brain.  The data is freely available at the Allen Mouse Brain Connectivity Atlas, in case you want to see for yourself.

A mouse brain has 75 million neurons, far fewer than the 100 or so billion in a human brain.  The only species for which we so far have a complete wiring diagram (or “connectome”) is the C. Elegans worm, with only 302 neurons.

The researchers used genetically engineered viruses to illuminate and trace individual neurons.  They achieved data resolution of less than one micron (a millionth of a metre).  They scanned 1,700 mouse brains, each divided into 140 sections.

The atlas contains 1.8 petabytes of data.  (“Peta” means 1 followed by 15 zeroes, and 1.8 petabytes is enough to store 24 years of HD video.)
The Allen Institute for Brain Science is one of a number of neuroscience labs working with both the EU-funded Human Brain Project in Lausanne and the USA’s BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) project.

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