How much does the 3D map of a cubic millimeter of brain weigh: 1400 terabytes

How much does the 3D map of a cubic millimeter of brain weigh: 1400 terabytes

A research team led by Jeff Lichtman, neuroscientist at Harvard University (Cambridge, USA), has published the results of research of truly epochal importance. The academician and his collaborators managed to create a 3D map of the human brain, in particular the cerebral cortexthe area involved in learning, problem solving, and processing sensory signals.

Lichtman and his team used a brain fragment (one cubic millimeter) taken from a 45-year-old woman undergoing surgery to treat epilepsy. The sample was soaked in a preservative and stained to make the cells easier to visualize.

The researchers then cut the sample into 5,000 very small ones.”slices” of thickness of just 34 nanometers and then subject them to analysis using an electron microscope. Just remember that the nanometer is the unit of measurement used to describe microprocessors. Refers to the length of a critical segment of the transistor, such as channel length or gate size. As a comparison, viruses can have dimensions in the order of 20-300 nanometers while a hair measures 80,000 nanometers.

What the 3D map of the brain, created with the help of artificial intelligence, looks like

Starting from the work carried out by Lichtman and published in Science, Viren Jain (Google) and his collaborators used theartificial intelligence to build a 3D map from the images produced by the electron microscope.

At the time of writing this article, the 3D map of the brain developed from one cubic millimeter of material has a dimension huge, already equal to over 1.4 Petabytes (1,400 Terabytes).

The 3D map thus created contains references to approximately 57,000 cells and 150 million synapses. Examining it in detail, scientists discovered the existence of unconventional neurons which form up to 50 mutual connections, neurons that wrap around themselves to form nodes and pairs of neurons that appear as perfect or almost perfect mirror images. It is not clear, however, what role these neurons play.

The team now plans to create similar maps of brain samples acquired from other people, but it will take decades to create a rough map of the entire brain. In any case, such a detailed map will contribute to “discover the secrets of neuronal connections, helping to clarify the internal functioning of the human brain“. A study which will therefore offer valid help in the treatment of some psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases.

How to view the 3D map with Neuroglancer

Neuroglancer is a 3D visualization tool designed specifically for exploring neuroscientific data. It is developed by Google and offers a wide range of capabilities for viewing and analyzing three-dimensional images and data, such as magnetic resonance tomography (MRI) images, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images, and images obtained through imaging techniques. imaging brain such as fluorescence microscopy.

Scientists have made publicly available all the material produced following theprocessing with AI. The voluminous dataset is available on the H01 Release website and is accessible using Neuroglancer, which can be installed by referring to the GitHub repository. You can clone the repository or download the project’s Zip file by extracting the contents locally.

All released datasets are under license Creative Commons Attribution 4.0thus allowing anyone to view the contents and rework them independently.

A simplified view of a part of dataset shared is also accessible through the Web demo version of Neuroglancer.

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