A single cubic millimeter of human brain has generated 1,4 petabytes of data.



A publication in Science presents the largest-ever dataset of neural connections, providing a glimpse into the brain's complexity. This seemingly tiny volume of one cubic millimeter contains the impressive number of 57.000 cells, 150 million synapses, and 230 millimeter blood vessels.

This groundbreaking work is the result of a collaboration between a Harvard University team and Google Research. The Harvard team imaged serial sections of a human temporal cortex sample using electron microscopy, while Google's team reconstructed the images into 3D segments. This publication marks a significant first step, with plans to expand the strategy to even larger samples in the quest to map the brain's connectome.

In line with a strong data-sharing philosophy, all results and tools from this study are freely available online for exploration. Notable findings highlighted in the study include a cluster of neurons with mirror-image orientation, the detection of exceptionally strong connections between certain neurons, as well as axonal whorls with unknown functions. This is likely just a fraction of the discoveries awaiting within the 1.4 petabytes of data.

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Contact person: Dr Evelina Sjöstedt (evelina_sjostedt@fas.harvard.edu)