The human brain is one of the most complex structures in existence, andissued Google, in cooperation with Harvard University, rebuild 1.4 petabytes Browsable for a very small portion of the cerebral cortex.
The dataset consists of imaging data covering approximately one cubic millimeter of brain tissue.
It includes tens of thousands of reconstructed neurons, millions of neuron segments, 130 million annotated synaptic points, and 104 corrected cells. Along with many additional annotations and substructures.
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The cerebral cortex is a thin superficial layer of the brain. This cortex plays an important role in thinking, memory, planning, cognition, language and attention. In addition to most other higher-level cognitive functions.
Although some progress has been made in understanding the visual organization of this highly complex tissue. However, its regulation at the level of individual neurons and their interconnected synapses is largely unknown.
This sample was donated anonymously from patients who underwent surgery for epilepsy at MGH, Massachusetts General Hospital. It was then presented to researchers in Lichtman’s lab at Harvard University.
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Google and the cerebral cortex:
Harvard researchers cut the tissue into about 5,300 individual 30-nanometer segments. Using an automated tape that combines a high-precision microtome. Then they superimposed these sections on silicon wafers. Then they imaged brain tissue at a resolution of 4 nanometers using a 61-beam parallel-scanning electron microscope Intended for a quick image.
The end result was 225 million individual 2D images. Google then computationally tied it up and align it in 3D volume with the thousands of Cloud TPUs it’s harnessed in the process.
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This map of the human brain can now be accessed through Google’s web-based visualization tool Neuroglancer.
The future challenge for Google is storage. The current data set of 1.4 petabytes is only one millionth of the size of an entire human brain.
For example, mapping the brain of a mouse can generate exabytes of data. The company is looking into machine learning-based efforts to compress data.
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This is the largest sample of brain tissue ever imaged and reconstructed in this level of detail.
It also represents the first large-scale study of synaptic connectivity in the human cortex that extends across multiple cell types across all layers of the cortex.
The primary goals of this project are to produce a new resource for the study of the human brain and to improve and extend basic connectivity techniques.