The advance in resolution is analogous to the transition from older line maps to Google satellite images. Zooming into older maps provides no more detail or information. Similarly, zooming into an MRI scan provides no further detail it just reveals the blocky 1mm pixellation. The BigBrain brain atlas is the equivalent of Google street view, zooming in provides a new level of information that hasn't been offered before in 3D.
Current atlases based on histological slices are in 2D. BigBrain redefines these traditional neuroanatomy maps such as those of Brodmann by providing an ultra-view of the brain using fully automated 3D techniques. Atlases based on MRIs do not allow for the integration of information at the level of cortical layers, columns, micro circuits, or the larger cells. BigBrain enables researchers to see at 20 micron resolution (1000 microns in a millimetre) throughout the brain.
The implications of BigBrain to explore and analyze the human brain are innumerable. It can be used to integrate and correlate data from a wide range of modalities: genetic, molecular neuroscience, electrophysiological and pharmacological among many. It will enable and accelerate computational modelling for simulation of brain functions, normal development and degeneration caused by disease. BigBrain will vastly improve the importance and interpretation of low-resolution dynamic in-vivo data obtained by MRI and PET, by combining the data with the enormous detail and spatial resolution of the static BigBrain atlas. It will enhance neurosurgical procedures, for example placing deep brain stimulators and will advance clinical research, for example, localizing the site of intractable epilepsy to certain specific type of nerve cells.
|Contact: Anita Kar|