A 3D wiring diagram, the largest of its kind, containing hundreds of thousands of cells and nearly half a billion connections of a mouse brain has been created by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine, the Allen Institute and Princeton University as part of a project to learn principles from the brain that can help advance artificial intelligence. This unique resource was generated through the IARPA Machine Intelligence from Cortical Networks (MICrONS) program, and will be invaluable for neuroscientists seeking to understand how the brain processes information along neocortical circuits, and for researchers wanting to treat brain disorders where wiring or connections are altered.
The dataset took five years to create and is publicly available for anyone in the community to browse and use. It maps the fine structures and connectivity of approximately 200,000 brain cells and nearly 500 million synapses, all contained in a cubic millimeter chunk of mouse brain approximately the size of a grain of sand. The area of the brain that was chosen is from the visual neocortex, a part of the brain that is essential for visual perception. A unique feature of the dataset is that researchers at Baylor College of Medicine collected comprehensive recordings of the activity patterns evoked by a variety of complex visual stimuli, from YouTube clips to Hollywood movies, for around 75,000 brain cells in the same brain volume that was used to generate the nano-scale connectivity map.