Previous wiring diagrams, as the pictures are known, have mapped the “connectomes” for the fruit fly and human brains. One of the reasons MICrONS has been so well received is that the data set has the potential to improve scientists’ understanding of the brain and possibly help them treat brain disorders.
Venkatesh Murthy, a professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard University who studies neuronal activity in mice but was not involved in the study, says the project gives him and other scientists, ” an overview “of how neurons interact, delivering an extremely high result. “frozen” image resolution they can zoom into.
R. Clay Reid, a senior researcher at the Allen Institute and another lead scientist on the MICrONS project, said that before the program’s research was completed, he would have thought this level of reconstruction was impossible.
Reid says that with machine learning, the process of transforming the brain’s two-dimensional wiring diagrams into three-dimensional models has improved exponentially. “It’s a funny combination of a very old field and a new approach,” he says.
Reid compared the new images to the first maps of the human genome, in that they provide fundamental knowledge that others can use. He imagines them helping others see structures and relationships inside the brain that were previously invisible.
“I see this, in a lot of ways, as the start,” says Reid. “This data and these AI-powered reconstructions can be used by anyone with an Internet connection and a computer, to ask an extraordinary range of questions about the brain.”