First comprehensive brain map released

April 13, 2011

Brain Explorer 2 is a desktop software application for viewing the human brain anatomy and gene expression data in 3D (credit: Allen Institute for Brain Science)

The Allen Institute for Brain Science has released the world’s first anatomically and genomically comprehensive human brain map.

The Allen Human Brain Atlas thoroughly characterizes and maps the biochemistry of two normal adult human brains, providing opportunities for scientists to study the brain with new detail and accuracy. The data reveal a striking 94 percent similarity between human brains, establishing strong patterns as a critical foundation for translational and clinical research.

Data analysis from the two human brains indicate that at least 82 percent of all human genes are expressed in the brain, highlighting its tremendous complexity while also providing an essential genetic blueprint to understand brain functionality better and propel research in neurologic disease and other brain disorders.

The Allen Human Brain Atlas identifies 1,000 anatomical sites in the human brain, backed by more than 100 million data points that indicate the particular gene expression and underlying biochemistry of each site. Scientists can use the Allen Human Brain Atlas to explore the human brain and identify how disease and trauma, including physical brain injuries and mental health disorders, affect specific areas of the brain.

The Atlas also makes it possible to pinpoint where a particular drug acts anatomically in the brain, to ultimately better control the successful outcome of numerous therapies.

The Allen Human Brain Atlas is free and available to scientists, physicians, and the education community as an online public resource.