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US scientists unveil world's first human brain map

SAN FRANCISCO, April 12 — US scientists on Tuesday unveiled the world's first computerized human brain map, an online public resource developed to accelerate understanding of how the human brain works and in hopes to tackle neurological diseases like Alzeimer's and Parkinson's.

Funded by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen, the US$ 55-million project, named the "Allen Human Brain Atlas," identifies 1,000 anatomical sites in the human brain, backed by more than 100 million data points that indicate the particular gene expression and underlying biochemistry of each site, said the Seattle-based Allen Institute for Brain Science.

The data, collected from two normal adult human brains donated for research, show a striking 94 percent similarity between human brains, and also find that at least 82 percent of all human genes are expressed in the brain, which will provide a genetic blueprint to understand brain functionality better and propel research in neurological disease as well as other brain disorders, said the institute.

"Until now, a definitive map of the human brain, at this level of detail, simply hasn't existed," said Allan Jones, Chief Executive Officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science.

"They've applied an industrialized approach and high-output technology to accomplish what no other lab has ever done," noted Dr. Edward Jones, a neuroscientist at the University of California.

The human brain map released so far is only male. To better illustrate variations between people, researchers expect to add eight more brains by the end of 2012, and the completed Atlas will include female brains.

The Atlas is free and available at www.brain-map.org, where a mouse brain map and a mouse spinal cord atlas were launched in 2006 and 2008 respectively. (PNA/Xinhua) DCT/vcs/utb

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