Neuroscientists have been mapping the physical anatomy of the human brain for over a century, but until recently researchers lacked a clear and comprehensive picture of which genes are used frequently and which are largely dormant in the myriad parts of this complex organ.
In 2012 a team at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle published the Allen Human Brain Atlas, which includes data on the activity of almost every gene at hundreds of locations inside the brains of five men and one woman. For comparison, the team had earlier produced an atlas of the mouse brain. The databases for these atlases, along with a viewer application called Brain Explorer, are freely available online.
This slide show presents some of the images developed by the Allen Institute in its studies of how the brain works in humans and mice. For more information on the Institute’s work, see “Genetic Maps of the Brain Lead to Surprises,” by Ed Lein and Mike Hawrylycz.
This article was originally published with the title "New Views of the Brain [Slide Show]" in Scientific American 310, 4, (April 2014)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
W. Wayt Gibbs
W. Wayt Gibbs is a freelance science writer and editor based in Seattle. He is a contributing editor for Scientific American and editorial director at Intellectual Ventures, a research and investment firm that has a spin-off company working on fission (not fusion) power.