“BigBrain” Project Makes Terabyte Map of a Human Brain



For the first time ever a complete 3-D digital map of a post mortem human brain will be available online for neuroscientists and anyone who wants a better idea of what their grey matter really looks like. The new ultra-detailed model, consisting of a terabyte of data, is part of the European Human Brain Project, created in a joint effort by Canadian and German neuroscientists. With a resolution of 20 micrometers it’s the only model yet to go beyond the macroscopic level. At this degree of resolution cells 20 micrometers in diameter are visible. Although individual smaller cells can’t be seen, it’s possible to identify and analyze the distribution of cells into cortical areas and sub-layers. Previous brain mapping efforts had resolutions one-fiftieth as fine.

“The whole point of such a modeling project is that you can then start to simulate what the brain does in normal development in children or in degeneration,” says Dr. Alan Evans, a professor of biomedical engineering at the McGill University, in Montreal. “If you wanted to look to Alzheimer’s Disease, you can examine how that brain might perform computationally in a computational model if you remove certain key structures or key connections.” [See More]