A Database Of All Things Brainy

May 15, 2015

Courtesy of Allen Institute for Brain Science

By Jon Hamilton

When the brain needs to remember a phone number or learn a new dance step, it creates a circuit by connecting different types of neurons.

Scientists still don’t know how many types of neurons there are or exactly what each type does.

“How are we supposed to understand the brain and help doctors figure out what schizophrenia is or what paranoia is when we don’t even know the different components?” says Christof Koch, president and chief scientific officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, a nonprofit research center in Seattle.

So the institute is creating a freely available online database that eventually will include thousands of nerve cells. For now, the Allen Cell Types Database has detailed information on 240 mouse cells, including their distinctive shapes.

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One comment on “A Database Of All Things Brainy”

  • The database is awesome, but also you realise it may yet not document the entirety of a neurons pertinent behaviors, the varieties of its conditioned states, its potential for conditioning, with many combinatorial inputs and its response to the varying of its local environments both chemical and electrical. (This latter, I realise is the posibility of a sub-seizure type event where an ephaptic type coupling from many local synchronised electrical events may yet create an electrical field strong enough to tip another unconnected neuron into joining its group.)


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