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18 April 2014

Well Connected

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

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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