Google’s artificial intelligence scientist and Harvard University (USA) developed an interactive map of the human brain. On the platform, it is possible to visualize thousands of neurons and neuron fragments, 130 million synapses, and even cellular and subcellular structures – all with digital reconstructions of cubic millimeters of brain tissue.
The resolution of the images is so high that all this data takes up 1.4 petabytes of space, which is roughly 3,000 times the storage capacity of a smartphone with 512 gigabytes of memory.
The images can be freely accessed on a platform called neurogender. On the official page of the project, you can see specific parts of the brain, which, for example, facilitate the use of tools in education.
To create the map, the researchers used brain tissue donated by a 45-year-old patient who had surgery to remove an epileptic focus in the temporal lobe on the side of the brain. While removing the affected area, doctors also needed to remove some healthy tissue from the cortex, which was treated so that it could be cut into more than 5,000 extremely thin slices (30 nanometers each). These parts were digitized to make the map in three dimensions (3D).
According to Google, this is the largest digitally reconstructed brain tissue sample of any kind to date.
According to the company, the main purpose of the research is to provide new sources for the study of the human brain and to promote improvements in connectomics technologies, a field of science devoted to mapping and representing the connections of the nervous system. .
“The magnitude of the dataset provides the basis for many years of study by researchers from the human cortex,” write Tim Blakely and Michael Januszewski, Google software engineers involved in the project. Company published text.
researcher too Published a pre-printing article (not yet reviewed by other scientists) with a description of the processes that led to the formation of the map. The article also suggests that neuroglancers were used to discover new types of cells in the brain, but most of the files have yet to be discovered by scientists.