Biological puzzles abound in an up-close look at a human brain

Biological puzzles abound in an up-close look at a human brain

Science News reports:

It’s a bit like seeing a world in a grain of sand.

Except the view, in this case, is the exquisite detail inside a bit of human brain about half the size of a grain of rice. Held in that minuscule object is a complex collective of cells, blood vessels, intricate patterns and biological puzzles.

Scientists had hints of these mysteries in earlier peeks at this bit of brain. But now, those details have been brought into new focus by mapping the full landscape of some 57,000 cells, 150 million synapses and their accompanying 23 centimeters of blood vessels, researchers report in the May 10 Science. The full results, the scientists hope, may lead to greater insights into how the human brain works.

“We’re going in and looking at every individual connection attached to every cell — a very high level of detail,” says Viren Jain, a computational neuroscientist at Google Research in Mountain View, Calif. The big-picture goal of brain mapping efforts, he says, is “to understand how human brains work and what goes wrong in various kinds of brain diseases.”

The newly mapped brain sample was removed during a woman’s surgery for epilepsy, so that doctors could reach a deeper part of the brain. The bit, donated with the woman’s consent, was from the temporal lobe of the cortex, the outer part of the brain involved in complex mental feats like thinking, remembering and perceiving. [Continue reading…]

Comments are closed.