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Seeing Connections
19 October 2017

Seeing Connections

Crunching the data: accountants do it, marketing gurus do it, and so do researchers. To better understand the human brain, biologists have generated 50 years’ worth of information from rat brains, uncovering how nerve cells connect and talk to each other. Now these data have been systematically organised into a database called ChemNetDB. Schematics using the data (pictured) depict the brain as a circle, with different regions represented along the perimeter. Lines across the circle represent all the connections discovered (black) between regions, revealing pathways in rats that are conserved in other mammals, such as mice and primates. More digging separated out different chemical signals used by these connections, with most using GABA (pink), then dopamine (orange), serotonin (light blue), glutamate (darker blue), and lastly enkephalin (darkest blue). This freely accessible resource provides an invaluable tool to help brain researchers carry out experiments in the lab and using computer models.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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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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