Atlas of Gene Activity in Human Brain Launches

California News Correspondent

The Allen Institute for Brain Science has launched its map of gene expression in the human brain. The institute, started in 2003 with $100 million in seed money from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, hopes the atlas will become a valuable resource for scientists studying brain function and disease.

The open access Allen Human Brain Atlas combines four data sets: anatomical images of the human brain obtained by MRI scans (to show gross anatomy), diffusion tensor imaging (which reveals the fiber tracts connecting different brain regions), histology (to show cellular level anatomy), and gene expression data. The result, scientists hope, will provide the most detailed look yet at which genes are active in which parts of the human brain.

The human brain atlas follows the mouse brain atlas released in 2006. A monkey brain atlas is currently in the works.

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