Researchers Claim To Have Created ‘Most Detailed’ Map of Brain Hippocampus

hippocampusIn an attempt to understand better the human brain region connected to Alzheimer’s disease, US scientists have created probably the most detailed atlas yet about the brain’s memory bank – the hippocampus.

The atlas was created by utilizing fluorescent tracers and 3D animation, the map shows nerve connections, structures and functions related to the hippocampus in a great detail, as per the study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

“Like a new atlas, we’ve constructed the most detailed diagram of the hippocampus to date,” said lead author of the study Michael Bienkowski from the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.

“With a better map, we can see each region and how it functions. A better map is a resource scientists can use to better understand the hippocampus and how its degeneration leads to diseases,” Bienkowski said.

The shape of the human hippocampus is like that of a seahorse and it sits at the base of the brain. The region helps in storing memories, regulating emotions and guiding navigation by spatial processing.

When a person is affected by alzheimer’s disease, this is the first part of the brain that gets impaired due to it and the result of such degeneration can cause epilepsy and other kind of diseases.

In this particular case, the researchers worked on a brain of a mouse due to the fact that it its organized very similar to a human brain.

The new map of the hippocampus can be used by the scientists to deliver genetically-targeted drugs to specific neurons with very few side effects, said senior author, Hong-Wei Dong, Professor of Neurology at USC.

For a long time, scientist have known the basic four-part architecture of the hippocampus.

But now when they have the new map with them, scientists can easily show all its sub-regions and how nerve cells interact with each other across the whole structure.

“It totally changes our understanding by combining a wiring diagram with gene expression of the mouse hippocampus. We see it doing different things, and this gives us a new way to understand how the whole thing works together. This should have a very profound and broad impact,” Bienkowski said.

Human brain is considered to be a very complex structure and there have been years of study done on it across the world. The role of different regions is slowly being analyzed and discovered after these studies.

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