Crunching the data: accountants do it, marketing gurus do it, and so do researchers. To better understand the human brain, biologists have generated 50 years’ worth of information from rat brains, uncovering how nerve cells connect and talk to each other. Now these data have been systematically organised into a database called ChemNetDB. Schematics using the data (pictured) depict the brain as a circle, with different regions represented along the perimeter. Lines across the circle represent all the connections discovered (black) between regions, revealing pathways in rats that are conserved in other mammals, such as mice and primates. More digging separated out different chemical signals used by these connections, with most using GABA (pink), then dopamine (orange), serotonin (light blue), glutamate (darker blue), and lastly enkephalin (darkest blue). This freely accessible resource provides an invaluable tool to help brain researchers carry out experiments in the lab and using computer models.
Written by Lux Fatimathas
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.