Google Research, in collaboration with various institutions, is launching a $33 million project to expand the field of connectomics. Connectomics aims to map the connections between every cell in the brain to understand how the brain works and treat brain diseases. The project will focus on mapping a small fraction (2-3%) of the mouse brain, specifically targeting the hippocampal region responsible for memory and navigation. This project is part of the NIH’s BRAIN Initiative Connectivity Across Scales program. The goal is to develop new approaches that will eventually allow us to map the entire mouse brain and, eventually, the human brain.
Mapping the connectome of the mouse brain is a significant challenge in neuroscience. It builds on a decade of innovation in the field and can potentially deliver insights relevant to understanding human brain function and dysfunction. By mapping a small region of the mouse brain, we can create one of the largest datasets in biology, combining 25,000 terabytes of brain data. To put this into perspective, it would take 100,000 Milky Way Galaxies to match the amount of data collected in this project.
Our team has already made progress in developing tools for managing massive connectomic datasets and extracting scientific value from them. However, mapping the mouse brain will require improvements in technology to map more data faster. We will continue to refine our deep learning algorithms and enhance our core infrastructure to handle the new scales of data.
This project has the potential to shed light on how our brains work and provide insights into memory and navigation. We are excited to embark on this journey and discover what the mouse brain can teach us about our own minds.
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