AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 2, 2017

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New Mouse Brain Map May Illuminate Origins of Mental Illnesses

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Scientists from Duke University recently released a highly detailed model of connections in the mouse brain that could provide new insights into brain circuits and origins of mental illness. The findings, published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, used the “connectome,” or map of brain circuitry, by performing an MRI scan of the brain of a healthy mouse, using a spatial resolution more than 100,000-times greater than of a conventional clinical MRI. The accuracy of the connectome is determined by the spatial resolution and the number of different angles scanned. The new data collected from the study are 1,000-times more precise than previous diffusion MRI scans of a mouse brain. “Interest in structural brain connectivity has grown with the understanding that abnormal neural connections play a significant role in neurologic and psychiatric diseases,” said the study’s lead author. “Examining brain connectivity in small animals can help us better identify problems in the diseased brain, and apply that knowledge to humans.” A colorful connectivity matrix accompanies the journal article, charting each region of the mouse brain and its probable connectivity to other brain structures. The researchers are currently building an online portal for scientists around the world to access the full directory of digital files to guide their own research into mouse neurocircuitry. To read more about this study, click here

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