The world’s first computerised brain map is expected to make breakthroughs possible in a range of medical conditions after its unveiling.
Researchers said the map could help them find new clues to conditions rooted in the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease, autism and mental-health disorders.
They spent four years piecing together minute details from brain tissue, including millions of genes. The brains were chopped up into sections to find the 25,000 genes present in the human genome, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Each detail was loaded into a computer to provide exact directions from one point of the brain to another, according to the Daily Mail.
The project has already been used by some 4,000 brain scientists who are using the map to probe brains.
“Until now, a definitive map of the human brain at this level of detail simply hasn’t existed,” said Allan Jones from the Allen Institute for Brain Science, Seattle, the US.
“For the first time, we have generated a comprehensive map of the brain that includes the underlying biochemistry,” added Allan.
Researches have for years struggled to link symptoms of the diseases to the biochemistry of genes that might be responsible for them. They have therefore been unable to get full picture of the brain in order to tackle debilitating diseases.
They picked two adult male brains and set about working on the information in the $50 million project.
Scientists catalogued 1,000 “landmarks” in each of the two brains and then linked those tissues to thousands of genes they work in conjunction with to neural development and function.
“The Allen atlas tells you where a gene is turned on in the brain and that’s why it is important,” said neurologist Jeffrey L. Noebels, who studies epilepsy at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, the US.