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Building the Mouse Brain Mega Map

Scientists imaged more than 1,700 mouse brains to build the most comprehensive mammalian brain map yet.

By Carl Engelking|Wednesday, November 26, 2014
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Scientists constructed the most detailed connectome (above) of a mouse brain in April.
Allen Institute for Brain Science

The tiny mouse brain is packed with more than 86 million neurons, each with more than 1,000 connections, clustered into different nodes — similar to a complex highway system.

In April, researchers led by Hongkui Zeng of the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle assembled the first road map of neural pathways — called a connectome — inside the mouse brain (left). It’s the most comprehensive guide ever assembled of the mammalian brain.

Scientists imaged more than 1,700 mouse brains (injected with a tracer virus) at resolutions less than a micrometer, or 50 times smaller than a human hair. They assembled the 1.8 petabytes of data — equivalent to running HD video continuously for 26 years — into a 3-D map. See it at brain-map.org.

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