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Oct 10, 2021

Neuroscientists roll out first comprehensive atlas of brain cells

Posted by in categories: biological, health, robotics/AI

A slew of new studies now shows that the area of the brain responsible for initiating this action — the primary motor cortex, which controls movement — has as many as 116 different types of cells that work together to make this happen.

The 17 studies, appearing online Oct. 6 in the journal Nature, are the result of five years of work by a huge consortium of researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health’s Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative to identify the myriad of different cell types in one portion of the brain. It is the first step in a long-term project to generate an atlas of the entire brain to help understand how the neural networks in our head control our body and mind and how they are disrupted in cases of mental and physical problems.

“If you think of the brain as an extremely complex machine, how could we understand it without first breaking it down and knowing the parts?” asked cellular neuroscientist Helen Bateup, a University of California, Berkeley, associate professor of molecular and cell biology and co-author of the flagship paper that synthesizes the results of the other papers. “The first page of any manual of how the brain works should read: Here are all the cellular components, this is how many of them there are, here is where they are located and who they connect to.”

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