"Atlas" of the Human Brain
New hope for developing better diagnostic procedures for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and schizophrenia may be at hand. A European team of scientists has built the first "atlas" of white-matter microstructure in the human brain. The team believes that the results of their project, called CONNECT, has the potential "to change the face of neuroscience and medicine over the coming decade," according to a release University College London. The investigators met in Paris after 3 years of research to announce the conclusion of the project and present a report of their findings.
The work relied on groundbreaking MRI technology. The participants of the project were drawn from leading research centers in countries across Europe including Israel, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Denmark, Switzerland and Italy.
Professor Daniel Alexander, a CONNECT steering committee member, said: "The UCL team use the latest computer modeling algorithms and hardware to invent new imaging techniques. The techniques we devised were key to realizing the new CONNECT brain atlas. The imaging techniques reveal new information about brain structure that help us understand how low-level cellular architecture relate to high-level thought processes."
The project will dramatically facilitate and promote future research into white matter structure and function. Historically in neuroscience, the vast majority of research effort has been invested in understanding and studying gray matter and neurons, while white matter has received relatively little attention.