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The world's first computerised map of the brain was released yesterday by scientists at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, in Seattle, Washington, after more than four years of cutting-edge research.

The Human Brain Atlas is an interactive research tool that will help scientists to understand how the brain works and aid new discoveries in disease and treatments.

The information used to build it comes from the analysis of two human brains, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a variation of MRI called diffusion tensor imaging.

Allan Jones, the CEO of the institute, told Wired how the brains were also chopped up into small pieces, and RNA extracted from the tissue. They used this RNA to obtain a read-out of the 25,000 genes in the human genome.

All this information was put together to create a detailed map of the brain. One thousand anatomical sites in the brain can be searched, supported by more than 100 million data points that indicate the gene expression and biochemistry of each site.

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Category: Science