Mouse Brain Mapped in Greatest Detail Yet

Australian scientists have created the most detailed atlas of the mouse brain, a development that is helping in the fight against brain disease.

3D surface renderings of the mouse neocortex. Color codes for all segmented regions are shown below (Jeremy F.P. Ullmann et al)

3D surface renderings of the mouse neocortex. Color codes for all segmented regions are shown below (Jeremy F.P. Ullmann et al)

“The new brain atlas provided a fundamental tool for the neuroscience community,” said Dr Jeremy Ullmann, lead author of a paper describing the atlas in the journal NeuroImage.

The new tool will allow researchers to map what parts of the brain are affected in mouse models of brain disease – such as brain cancer, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimers disease.

“The mouse is now the most widely used animal model for neuroscience research and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is fundamental to investigating changes in the brain,” Dr Ullman said.

“Our atlas is already much in demand internationally because it allows researchers to use MRI to automatically map brain structures.”

“In making these world-first maps, we had the advantage of using the most powerful MRI scanners in the Southern Hemisphere, backed up by leaders in digital image analysis, resulting in remarkably clear images of the brain,” explained senior author Prof David Reutens from the University of Queensland’s Centre for Advanced Imaging.

The project’s lead neuroanatomist, Prof Charles Watson from Curtin University, said: “the study will open the door to accurate analysis of gene targeting in the mouse brain.”

“The invention of gene targeting in the mouse has made this species the centerpiece of studies on models of human brain disease. MRI allows researchers to follow changes in the brain over time in the same animals,” he said.

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Bibliographic information: Jeremy F.P. Ullmann et al. A segmentation protocol and MRI atlas of the C57BL/6J mouse neocortex. NeuroImage, published online April 12, 2013; doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.04.008