Google and Google artificial intelligence scientists Harvard University (USA) developed a virtual platform that features an interactive map of the human brain. The tool allows you to view thousands of neurons and its fragments, in addition to 130 million synapses and cellular and subcellular structures. And, all this, through the digital reconstruction of a cubic millimeter of brain tissue.

Brain map created by researchers at Google and Harvard University allow travel through the organ. Image: Screenshot Neuroglancer

Chamada neuroglancing, the platform provides access to specific parts of the brain, which facilitates the use of the tool for different purposes, such as education, for example.

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According to the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper, the resolution of the images on the portal is so high that all this data occupies a space of 1,4 petabytes, equivalent to almost 3 times the storage capacity of a smartphone with 512 gigabytes of memory.

Brain tissue donated to create the map is from the temporal lobe

To assemble the map, the team used brain tissue donated by a 45-year-old patient who underwent surgery to remove a epileptic focus in the temporal lobe, in the lateral part of the brain. 

When removing the affected part, doctors also needed to remove some healthy tissue from the cortex, which underwent a treatment so that it could be cut into more than 5 extremely thin slices, 30 nanometers each. These portions were digitized to build the map in three dimensions (3D).

According to Google, this is the largest digitally reconstructed brain tissue sample of any kind to date.

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The main objectives of the research, reports the company, "are to provide new sources for the study of the human brain and to promote improvements in connectomics technologies, an area of ​​science dedicated to creating maps and representations of the connections of the nervous system".

“The magnitude of the dataset provides the basis for many years of studies by researchers of the human cortex,” say Tim Blakely and Michael Januszewski, software engineers at Google involved in the project, through a text published by the company.

The researchers also published a preprint article (not yet reviewed by other scientists), describing the processes carried out up to the construction of the map. According to the article, Neuroglancer was used to discover new types of cells in the brain, but much of the file still needs to be explored by scientists.

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