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Brain atlas gets printed … all 350 pages’ worth

Image: Human brain atlas
These are just a few of the brain images that appear in a newly published atlas of the human brain. (Credit: Allen Institute for Brain Science)

As neuroscience marches on, researchers are creating more and more brain mapsand atlases – but the Allen Human Brain Reference Atlas is a rarity. This week it’s actually being published as a 350-page atlas you can hold in your hands.

Like most brain references, the detailed map of a single human brain is available online. The Allen Institute for Brain Science’s reference atlas shows brain structure down to the cellular level, at a resolution of 1 micron per pixel. The anatomical map, based on trillions of bytes of imaging data, is supplemented by readings from two different types of brain scans.

This sort of atlas usually stays online. In contrast, the illustration-heavy Comprehensive Cellular-Resolution Atlas of the Adult Human Brain takes up pretty much all of the latest issue of the Journal of Comparative Neurology.

“It’s actually a highly unusual publication. … We’re pretty much lacking in structural maps of the human brain,” Allen Institute neuroscientist Ed Lein, the study’s senior author, told GeekWire. By some accounts, it could be the first such anatomical map of the full human brain to make its print debut in more than a century.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, 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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