This video from the Allen Mouse Brain Connectivity Atlas – a huge data set mapping the 75 million nerve cells in a mouse’s brain – provides fresh insights into how a mammal’s nervous system processes information. Here, each coloured dot represents a group of axons [nerve fibres] that project from a particular area of the brain. Using genetically engineered viruses to trace and light-up the individual neurons [nerve cells], the researchers found that the connections between different brain regions were highly specific. The brain works by balancing a low number of strong connections with a greater number of weak ones. Because of the neuronal similarities between a mouse’s brain and a human’s, this atlas could provide a powerful model to improve our understanding of how human nerve cells connect and process information.
Written by Nick Kennedy
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.