The Allen Institute for Brain Science published two landmark papers in the April 2nd online edition of the journal Nature, highlighting our groundbreaking work to produce and share the BrainSpan Atlas of the Developing Human Brain prenatal data, and the Allen Mouse Brain Connectivity Atlas.
The publication of these papers coincides with the first anniversary of President Obama's BRAIN Initiative and demonstrates our extensive and successful efforts in bringing big science to neuroscience and in contributing to this exciting public-private partnership.
As with all Allen Institute resources, the data are publicly available through the Allen Brain Atlas portal at http://brain-map.org.
The BrainSpan Atlas of the Developing Human Brain serves as a high-resolution blueprint for how to build a human brain, with detailed maps of where genes are turned on and off during crucial points throughout human development. The first major report from this project focused on the prenatal data set. The data provide insight into diseases like autism that are linked to early brain development, and to the origins of human uniqueness.
The resource comprises de novo reference atlases, in situ hybridization, ultra-high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and microarray analysis on laser-microdissected brain regions from two prenatal time points.
The Allen Mouse Brain Connectivity Atlas is the first comprehensive, large-scale data set describing how the brain of a mammal is wired, providing a groundbreaking data resource and fresh insights into how the nervous system processes information. The platform paper in Nature describing this invaluable tool to researchers comes on the heels of the last scheduled data release to the Connectivity Atlas in March 2014.
To create the Allen Mouse Brain Connectivity Atlas, scientists used enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP)-expressing adeno-associated viral vectors to trace axonal projections, and high-throughput serial two-photon tomography to image the labeled axons throughout the brain. Data was spatially registered into a common 3D reference space, resulting in a whole-brain, cellular-level, mesoscale connectome for the mouse.