Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

Scientists Unveil Worlds First Computerized Human Brain Map 73

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-laid-out dept.
An anonymous reader writes "US scientists on Tuesday unveiled the world's first computerized human brain map, an online public resource developed to accelerate understanding of how the human brain works and in hopes to tackle neurological diseases like Alzeimer's and Parkinson's. Funded by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen, the 55-million-US dollar project, named the Allen Human Brain Atlas, identifies 1,000 anatomical sites in the human brain, backed by more than 100 million data points that indicate the particular gene expression and underlying biochemistry of each site, said the Seattle-based Allen Institute for Brain Science. The human brain map released so far is only male."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Scientists Unveil Worlds First Computerized Human Brain Map

Comments Filter:
  • Only male? (Score:5, Funny)

    by mangu (126918) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @06:48PM (#35813160)

    Makes sense, they didn't want to start with a variable map.

    • by ronocdh (906309)
      Jokes aside, hard data on the specific anatomical and therefore neurological differences between male and female brains---if there are any!— are welcome. I'd think this discussion could be extended ad infinitum, with theoretical variations for differences of culture or "personality." Props to Allen for footing the bill on this one.
    • Start with a map of a mans mind and then take away reason and accountability and you will have a womans mind mapped.
      Just kidding, God the women here are going to kill me......err wait this is slashdot so I should be fairly safe.

    • Damn, I nearly choked on my breakfast. Thanks for the laugh. Where, oh where are my mod points?

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        Damn, I nearly choked on my breakfast. Thanks for the laugh. Where, oh where are my mod points?

        You have a fucking low bar for your sense of humour.
        Here's one you might enjoy:

        Q: Why did the slashdotter cross the road?

        A: Because he saw a woman coming towards him and shat his pants.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The software to show the map is not FOSS and also not available for Linux.
    http://human.brain-map.org/explorer.html [brain-map.org]

    • > The software to show the map is not FOSS and also not available for Linux.

      It's his fifty-five million! He can do what he wants with it!

    • by PPH (736903)
      Closed minds. What did you expect from Allen and his ilk?
    • I'm more disappointed that it has to run as a local application at all. Doesn't this say "an online public resource developed to accelerate understanding of how the human brain works". Now maybe it has a network connection, but when I hear "online public resource", I usually think of something you can access from other online public resources, like a public library. And that means web, imho. Google Maps is more of an online public resource than this brain map.
  • 1000 whole sites (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DeBattell (460265) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @07:03PM (#35813268)

    1000 whole sites. Too bad the brain has something like 100 trillion synapses. So that means each site contains an average of about 100 billion synapses. I want a higher resolution map.

    • by delineal (1970468)
      Isn't that overkill? 640K sites ought to be enough for anyone!
    • by hedwards (940851)

      1,000 is probably on the low side ultimately, but with 100b synapses, you'd be averaging about 100m per structure. That's thoroughly unscientific, but you'd expect to have a fairly substantial number per structure. Otherwise minor damage to anything anywhere in the brain would be catastrophic.

      • by jd2112 (1535857)
        Simulating 1000 synapses should work fine. If you remove all of the synapses of the male brain that are dedicated to thinking about boobies that's about all you have left.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Look any reasonable functional connectivity map across a large group of individuals will organize itself into about 20 networks and maybe 100 nodes. 1000 sites is probably too many for studying neurodegenerative disorders.

    • by gmuslera (3436)
      Considering how flexible is the brain (people recovering functionality after damage in zones associated with something), probably is a something great that then managed to identify physical places that are the same for everyone (ok, at least for every man).
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Just take the male map, remove reason and logic and voila, female brain map.

    • Just take the male map, remove reason and logic and voila, female brain map.

      It took me a while to remember what your comment reminded [hark.com] me of.

  • U.S. scientists on Tuesday unveiled the world's first computerized human brain map, an online public resource developed to accelerate understanding of how the human brain works and in hopes to tackle neurological diseases like Alzeimer's and Parkinson's.

    Hmmm . . . can I use that map on my GPS Navigator?"

    Navigator: "Please take a left turn at your next neurological problem ,,, oh, never mind ... can you replace the loose nut behind the wheel, and take this car back to Hertz?"

    Funded by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen, the 55-million-U.S. dollar project, named the Allen Human Brain Atlas, identifies 1,000 anatomical sites in the human brain, backed by more than 100 million data points that indicate the particular gene expression and underlying biochemistry of each site, said the Seattle-based Allen Institute for Brain Science.

    Well, that says a lot . . . "Thanks for all the fish, Mr. Allen . . ."

  • Just start with a male brain, then take away reason and accountability! Also, this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMb8Csll9Ws [youtube.com]
  • Now if only we had a computerized brain to analyze the computerized brain map...

    It reminds me of the quote attributed to Emerson M. Pugh,

    "If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn't."

  • by jd (1658) <imipak AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @07:48PM (#35813542) Homepage Journal

    The BBC is reporting that brain scans can detect Alzheimers [bbc.co.uk] decades before symptoms show. If you couple the two studies together, you should be able to identify what biochemistry is related to those specific areas that are thinning and no others. In further news, five more genes linked to the disease [bionews.org.uk] have now been identified. One of them turns out to be also linked to the immune system - which is interesting, since one of the key processes involved is the production of tau protein tangles which literally crush areas of the brain to death and toxic substances in the brain (such as aluminium) are known to trigger that process.

    It has always struck me that it had to be an immune response of some sort, since the tau proteins "contain" these contaminants, but I'd pictured it as being an archaic response (there's no evolutionary advantage in being dead, but there is an evolutionary advantage in single-cell and simple multi-cell organisms being able to detox). There's nothing in the BioNews article to suggest the mutation is a regression bug, though it's not exactly chock-full of details on things like how old the regions involved are.

    Anyways, with now ten genes identified, a region identified as pre-symptom Alzheimers, and a knowledge of the genes and chemistry of that part of the brain, it should be possible to do quite a bit.

    • by ue85 (1961968) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @08:15PM (#35813700)
      MRI shows anatomical changes and thus until there are gross physical changes in the brain you won't be able to detect such disease processes. MRI is wonderful for brain imaging, as it can differentiate between gray and white matter better than any other modalities but given the cost per scan, time required per scan and long queue of higher priority patients (stroke, head trauma, etc) it isn't effective given its low sensitivity. While I am biased towards Molecular Imaging a lot of focus has been on Pittsburgh compound B for imaging amyloid plaques. This type of imaging has the advantage of being extremely sensitive and specific however the cost and availability are even greater than that of MRI. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanners aren't widely available and where they are it is mainly reserved for oncology. Many theories for Alzheimer's disease exist but given the evidence linked to beta-amyloid mechanisms I don't think the missing link is some unknown mechanism but rather no cost effective way of dealing with it considering preventative treatments exist but are limited and no intervention exists to reverse the effects. That and there are a number of non-Alzheimer's dementias that people are less aware of.
      • by jd (1658)

        You are correct that it only shows gross changes, which makes it so surprising it can detect Alzheimer's a decade or so before symptoms show. It means that even if you couldn't cure the condition but only stop it, you could stop it before it became a problem. Mind you, with the 9.2T MRIs you can resolve virtually down to the individual neurons. (Having said that, only two exist as far as I know.)

        You are also correct that the cost, time and long queues make this a prohibitive technique for preventative medic

  • will add the map for non blonde women.
  • About as useful as slicing your computer into 0.1-mm thicknesses then labelling them by the smell of each 0.1-mm square thereof.

    The brain is a network of fluid tubes, wiring, electrochemical interfaces, and active surfaces. The gross chemical distribution is as important to signalling as the precise position and reactive conditioning of wiring connections is. Probably the least important thing about its function is "gene expression".

    Gene expression is useful only for disease mapping. Helpful to someone wh

    • And yet some of us (including myself) make our living doing just that - virtually slicing the brain (images of it) into sections and seeing how areas of the brain relate with behavior. Some of us (myself included) look at not just the discrete areas but also the "wiring". Don't worry, the wiring maps of the brain are in the works too.
      • To be honest I've been trying to find a use for this gene expression visualization feature for the last 2 hours by looking at different things different ways and I've come up with nothing yet. Also the program keeps crashing if I click anywhere when looking at coronal sections. The software is good for learning anatomy, I'm really at a loss for the gene expression visualization though. I guess overlapping patterns could mean the genes regulated each other, but if you have multiple splice variants and one is

    • Gene expression is useful only for disease mapping.

      That is the most ignorant thing I've heard today. Gene expression levels are germane to understanding any biochemistry or signaling pathways in a given tissue.

  • I think the little one is a lot easier; although the big one is pretty much undifferentiated tissue.

  • Publishing a map of the brain only makes it that much easier for GPS-equipped Zombies.

    Some maps should be kept secret for national security reasons.

    Certainly a Zombie invasion would be a national security disaster. Why give them a computerized map to make their job easier?

    • by Grygus (1143095)

      Anyone can post, "I for one welcome our new zombie overlords," but these guys will be able to demonstrate that they supported the apocalypse before it started! They will be eaten last, and you and I will wish we had been on that team.

  • by argStyopa (232550)

    I'd say it's more functionally accurate to say that the male human brain maps out at a function amazingly similar to Eva Longoria. At least, most of her.

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.

Working...