Brain Observatory peers into the minds of mice

Brain Observatory research

Senior scientist Jerome Lecoq and research associate Kate Roll inspect a microscope platform from the Allen Brain Observatory that was used to record real-time cellular activity in the visual cortex of mice as they were shown pictures and movies. (Credit: Allen Institute)

The Allen Brain Observatory is open for business, revealing what’s running through the mind of a mouse as it sees patterns of light and dark, pictures of butterflies and tigers – or even the opening scene of Orson Welles’ 1958 classic film, “Touch of Evil.”

The online repository of 30 trillion bytes’ worth of brain-cell readings represents the latest scientific offering from the Allen Institute for Brain Science, funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. It follows through on a $300 million pledge that Allen made more than four years ago.

The Allen Institute’s president and chief scientific officer, Christof Koch, has compared the project to a Hubble Space Telescope for the brain.

“No one has ever taken this kind of industrial approach to surveying the active brain at cellular resolution in order to measure how the brain processes information in real time,” Koch said today in the institute’s announcement of the data release. “This is a milestone in our quest to decode how the brain’s computations give rise to perception, behavior and consciousness.”

Get the full story on GeekWire.

About Alan Boyle

Award-winning science writer, creator of Cosmic Log, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.
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