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Scientists built the largest-ever map of the human brain. Here’s what they found

Published in Brain Architecture & Maps.

Scientists are one step closer to understanding the 170 billion brain cells that allow us to walk, talk, and think.

A newly published atlas offers the most detailed maps yet of the location, structure, and, in some cases, function of more than 3,000 types of brain cells.

“We really need this kind of information if we’re going to understand what makes us unique as humans, or what makes us different as individuals, or how the brain develops,” says Ed Lein, a senior investigator at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle and one of hundreds of researchers who worked on the maps.

The atlas also offers a new way to study neuropsychiatric conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s to depression.

“You can use this map to understand what actually happens in disease and what kinds of cells might be vulnerable or affected,” Lein says.

And the atlas is “critical for understanding how well different species can model human brain physiology, pathology and therapeutic response,” write Alyssa Weninger and Paola Arlotta in a commentary accompanying the scientific papers.