Each is specialized: Some groups of neurons become active when we recognize faces, others when we read, others when we raise our hands.
On July 20, in what many experts are calling a milestone in neuroscience, researchers published a spectacular new map of the brain, detailing nearly 100 previously unknown regions — an unprecedented glimpse into the machinery of the human mind.
Scientists will rely on this guide as they attempt to understand virtually every aspect of the brain, from how it develops in children and ages over decades, to how it can be corrupted by diseases like Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.
“It’s a step towards understanding why we’re we,” said David Kleinfeld, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego, who was not involved in the research.
While an important advance, the new atlas is hardly the final word on the brain’s workings. It may take decades for scientists to figure out what each region is doing, and more will be discovered in coming decades.
“This map you should think of as version 1.0,” said Matthew F. Glasser, a neuroscientist at Washington University School of Medicine and lead author of the new research. “There may be a version 2.0 as the data get better and more eyes look at the data. We hope the map can evolve as the science progresses.”
For Mr. Zimmer’s full New York Times story, click here.