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Updated Map Of The Human Brain Reveals 97 New Regions

Dr. Matthew Glasser
(Photo courtesy of Human Connectome Project)
Dr. Matthew Glasser.

Researchers recently published the most complete map of the human brain to date, offering new potential for studying neurological diseases.

The Human Connectome Project at Washington University in St. Louis scanned and studied the brains of more than 1,000 healthy adults. With this data, researchers mapped 180 regions of the brain, 97 of which were previously undiscovered.

The algorithm developed from the research also allows doctors to scan and identify where the regions are in an individual brain, specific to each person.

The lead author is neuroscientist Dr. Matthew Glasser. He said this map creates numerous possibilities for future research, but there also are immediate applications in the medical field.

“They may have a brain tumor or some other epileptic focus that they need to remove from the brain but they want to be very careful not to damage the brain areas that are involved in things like movement or understanding or production of speech," said Glasser.

Dr. Suraj Mule, a neurologist with Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, wasn’t involved in the research but said it’s been needed for a while, especially because until now neurologists couldn’t track degeneration of the brain.

“In Alzheimer’s disease, very early on the brain remains normal-looking. But if we can know exactly which area to look at and follow that area over time, it will help us in diagnosis and also in monitoring the disease to a certain extent," Mule said.

The project was a collaborative effort of more than 50 individuals from universities across the globe.

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Maya Springhawk Robnett was a reporter for KAWC in Yuma from 2012 to 2014.