Neuroscience Project Could Shine Light on the Elusive Brain

Posted by Kia Crawford on January 15th, 2014 in Education, Mind, Research | No Comments

It’s fascinating to think about how the brain truly works. The intricacy of its functionality is astounding. To think, the body’s connections only work because of our brains. For years, scientists have been interested in solving the mystery behind the brains interworking, but due to the lack of advanced technology, we have been unable to uncover the true power behind the brain. However, we are now in 2014 and technology allows us to dig much deeper into our cognitive function and other neurological mysteries. The brain is elusive with a myriad of codes, but with governmental interest resurgence reaching to the executive branch again within the last couple of years, Alzheimer’s research and other neurological research may get the necessary funding to finally crack the code. With teams of researchers, like the ones at Washington University, the brains elusiveness may become more intelligible.

Washington University’s neuroscience research team is working on the first interactive wiring diagram of the living, functioning brain. The study will consist of 1,200 participants who have volunteered to do brain scans and cognitive, psychological, physical and genetic assessments. The data will then be processed and used to build a 3-D interactive brain map showing the function and structure of a healthy human brain. According to The Times article discussing the study (click here for full article on the project), the 3-D mapping will be detailed to one and half cubic millimeters, or less than 0.0001 cubic inches.  That is AMAZING!

According to the article, all 1,200 subjects whose brain data is being collected for the project, will spend 10 hours over two days being scanned and doing other various test. The scientists  will then spend ‘hours analyzing and storing each person’s data to build something that neuroscience doesn’t currently have, a baseline database for structure and activity in a healthy brain that can be cross-referenced with personality traits, cognitive skills and genetics,’ according to the article. They will then make this available online for everyone to use and explore.

The project is connected to the Human Connetome Project, which will cost an estimated $40 million over the course of 5 years.

The database will be groundbreaking for the medical community shedding light on the brain’s functionality, improving knowledge, research, treatments and surgery.  It could also have direct implications on the tragic disease that so many of our residents are faced with – Alzheimer’s.


To learn more about this project, and read more on how it could impact different areas of neuroscience, click the link for the in-depth article on the study. Check out the interview from The Times on Washington University’s program.