Scientists have published the highest resolution 3D atlas of an average mouse brain. The public resource from the Allen Institute enables researchers to reference a common map for the 100 million cells in the rodent's brain. Mice are the most common animal used in all kinds of biomedical research. An accurate 3D model enables scientists to identify and understand the brain regions and processes that may be involved in any particular neural activity. This new model is an average of brain anatomy data from almost 2,000 mice. From the Allen Institute:
Think of [the 3D atlas] as the neuroscience equivalent of your phone's GPS. Instead of manually searching for your location on a paper map based on what you see around you, the GPS (and the new brain atlas) tells you where you are. With datasets in the thousands or millions of different pieces of information, that common set of coordinates — and pinpointing the corresponding brain landmarks for those coordinates — is crucial.
"In the old days, people would define different regions of the brain by eye. As we get more and more data, that manual curation doesn't scale anymore," said Lydia Ng, Ph.D., Senior Director of Technology at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, a division of the Allen Institute, and one of the senior authors on the atlas paper along with Julie Harris, Ph.D., Associate Director of Neuroanatomy at the Allen Institute for Brain Science. "Just as we have a reference genome sequence, you need a reference anatomy."