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Nanomappers – Harvard and PSC Chart Brain Connections

In a move towards developing a complete wiring diagram of the brain, Harvard and the Pittsburgh Supercomputer Center have developed study approach that makes it possible to identify the function of individual brain cells and map the connections between them.

We’ve just begun to scratch the surface,” says Clay Reid, professor of neurobiology at the Harvard Medical School and Center for Brain Science, who led the project, ”but we’re moving toward a complete physiology and anatomy of cortical circuits.”

To create the map, Reid and his colleagues developed an advanced TMR microscope that captured high resolution photographs of extremely thing slices of a mouse brain. Hundred of Terabytes of image files were then transfered to PSC for archival and processing.

What we’ve done,” says Wetzel, referring to the paper in Nature, “is about 1/80th of the target volume for our next step, a cubic millimeter, large enough to encompass a circuit.” In preparation for the larger volume, he and Hood have begun upscaling their storage and processing capabilities to handle as much as 100 terabytes, and expect to be prepared to handle data transmission at the scale of petabytes (1000 terabytes) in two to three years.

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