A team of scientists from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Long Island is creating a circuit diagram of the human brain, which would transform our understanding of who we are - laying out the biological codes behind our personalities, memories, skills and more. Mapping the neurons, of the mouse brain is a realistic stepping stone towards that achievement.
To create accurate images, they will need to trace out a circuit diagram of the neurons in a brain, and researchers will have to inject a series of chemical tracers into the brain and cut it into incredibly thin slices. They will then use extremely high zoom light microscopes to acquire detailed images of each brain slice.
A full set of images of a single brain will provide 1TB of data. But because they have so much data and don't know what to do with it all, they are opening it for use by the wider scientific community and the public. They've already uploaded 500TB of images to their project's website and more data is being added every other week.
The goal is to construct a wiring diagram of how all neurons are connected and how they work together. The only problem to this is that no two brains are ever alike, so which means the process isn't as simple as mapping a sing brain.
The scientists want to create a generalized diagram that can describe the majority of brains. Partha Mitra, one of the researchers behind the project, explains to Scientific American:
"Mouse brains show individual variation, so building up a statistical description of the variations will require many repeats. Since no one has ever tried doing this, we don't know how many repeats we will need."