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Julich-Brain – a 3D probabilistic atlas of human brain’s cytoarchitecture

September 2021 We are happy to share news about an exciting project closely related to the BigBrain project: The new Julich-Brain probabilistic cytoarchitectonic atlas, developed by researchers at Forschungszentrum Juelich and the Vogt Institute at Düsseldorf University under the lead of Prof. Katrin Amunts, has been published in Science, and has already attracted a lot of attention. These days, the team have made available surface maps, which link the atlas to most popular neuroimaging tools.

Brain areas vary significantly between different human brains in terms of size and location. Julich-Brain is the only comprehensive 3D map of the human brain, reflecting structural variability measured at microscopic resolution. It captures the position and shape of cortical and subcortical cytoarchitectonic brain regions in the form of probability maps defined in MNI reference space. The atlas features more than 250 structurally distinct areas, each one based on the analysis of 10 different postmortem brains. More than 24000 ultrathin brain sections were digitized, assembled in 3D and mapped based on image analysis and statistical tests. As part of the EBRAINS research infrastructure developed by the European Human Brain Project (HBP), these maps serve as an interface to link information from multimodal neuroscientific studies into a well-defined multiscale reference framework, including gene expressions, connectivity profiles, molecular properties, and functional activity. This way, Julich-brain paves the way to study the links between brain structure and function, and discover mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases.

The project also demonstrates how much the combination of brain research and digital technologies has progressed, and helps researchers worldwide to better understand the complex organization of the brain and to jointly uncover how things are connected.

Make sure to check out the full paper at DOI: 10.1126/science.abb4588

We would love to hear your feedback and discuss with you. Email us at info@bigbrainproject.com and enjoy reading!

Video Julich-Brain in motion

Ebrains press release on New Maps and Features in the EBRAINS Multilevel Human Brain Atlas: https://ebrains.eu/news/new-maps-features-ebrains-multilevel-human-brain-atlas/

FZJ Press release on the Julich-Brain paper: https://www.fz-juelich.de/SharedDocs/Pressemitteilungen/UK/EN/2020/2020-07-31-julich-brain-atlas_en.html