Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mouse brain atlas maps neural networks to reveal how brain regions interact

Date:
February 27, 2014
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Different brain regions must communicate with each other to control complex thoughts and behaviors, but little is known about how these areas organize into broad neuronal networks. In a new study, researchers developed a mouse whole-brain atlas that reveals hundreds of neuronal pathways in a brain structure called the cerebral cortex. The online database provides an invaluable resource for researchers interested in studying the anatomy and function of cortical networks throughout the brain.

Green and red fluorescent dyes label two different cortical pathways; pink labels cortical projection neurons.
Credit: Cell, Zingg et al.

Different brain regions must communicate with each other to control complex thoughts and behaviors, but relatively little is known about how these areas organize into broad neuronal networks. In a study published by Cell Press February 27th in the journal Cell, researchers developed a mouse whole-brain atlas that reveals hundreds of neuronal pathways in a brain structure called the cerebral cortex. The online, open access, interactive image database, called the Mouse Connectome Project, provides an invaluable resource for researchers interested in studying the anatomy and function of cortical networks throughout the brain.

"This study is the first comprehensive mapping of the most developed region of the mammalian brain: the cerebral cortex," says senior study author Hong-Wei Dong of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. "Scientists can now use this anatomical map as a testable framework for exploring how each structure contributes to overall brain function."

The cerebral cortex -- the outermost layered structure of neural tissue in the brain -- plays a key role in regulating thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in mammals. Although scientists have mapped out neuronal connections on a small scale within specific parts of the mammalian brain, they have not achieved an accurate understanding of how cortical regions are organized into broad neuronal networks because they have used a patchwork of different techniques in different animal models. As a result, there has been a strong need for a thorough, rigorous, and consistent effort to map out neuronal connections spanning the entire mammalian cortex.

To address this need, Dong and his team generated a cortical connectivity atlas of the mouse brain using neuronal tracing techniques. They injected fluorescent molecules, which are visible under the microscope, into different areas across the entire mouse cortex. These molecules, which were transported along "cellular highways," labeled about 600 neuronal pathways. The researchers used a high-resolution microscope to scan the brain sections and create an image database of cortical connections.

When the researchers analyzed the connections, they found that the cerebral cortex is a highly organized network, consisting of eight subnetworks whose coordinated activity reflects an animal's feelings and perceptions. Moreover, this information is shared between subnetworks in a very specific way. "These findings challenge the widespread assumption that the cortex is a single network in which everything is densely connected with everything else," Dong says.

Moving forward, researchers can merge anatomical data from this important mammalian model system with the large amounts of existing molecular genetics data to identify fundamental types of nerve cells, an important objective of the NIH's BRAIN Initiative, which is part of a new Presidential focus aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain. "Determining the anatomical organization of the whole brain will be a fundamental and exciting step towards uncovering the structural underpinnings of brain function and its dysfunction in neurological disorders," Dong says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Brian Zingg, Houri Hintiryan, Lin Gou, MonicaY. Song, Maxwell Bay, MichaelS. Bienkowski, NicholasN. Foster, Seita Yamashita, Ian Bowman, ArthurW. Toga, Hong-Wei Dong. Neural Networks of the Mouse Neocortex. Cell, 2014; 156 (5): 1096 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.02.023

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Mouse brain atlas maps neural networks to reveal how brain regions interact." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140227125234.htm>.
Cell Press. (2014, February 27). Mouse brain atlas maps neural networks to reveal how brain regions interact. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140227125234.htm
Cell Press. "Mouse brain atlas maps neural networks to reveal how brain regions interact." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140227125234.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) Yale researchers tested 135 men and women, and it was only obese women who were deemed to have "impaired associative learning." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Does Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Boost Urge To Drink?

Does Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Boost Urge To Drink?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) A new study suggests that mixing alcohol with energy drinks makes you want to keep the party going. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pot Cooking Class Teaches Responsible Eating

Pot Cooking Class Teaches Responsible Eating

AP (July 18, 2014) Following the nationwide trend of eased restrictions on marijuana use, pot edibles are growing in popularity. One Boston-area cooking class is teaching people how to eat pot responsibly. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins