Since the BigBrain effort began in 2003, technology has advanced to enable researchers to scan human brain sections at a resolution of one micrometer. But completing another atlas at such a high resolution would create about 20,000 trillion bytes of data — more than the most advanced computers today could process efficiently, says Amunts.
“The technology is continuing to grow rapidly,” says Sean Hill, executive director of the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility in Stockholm. But he notes that the problem of data management and processing will require more resources and attention as neuroscience shifts towards big data sets. “This is an example of something that is only going to increase in frequency,” says Hill.
Amunts says that the team is already working on mapping “brain number 2”.