ALLEN Human Brain Atlas
Using an innovative approach to human brain mapping, the Allen Institute is developing a one-of-a-kind resource for understanding genes at work in the human brain. Launched in May 2010, the ALLEN Human Brain Atlas is expected to provide insights that propel researchers to understand and discover new treatments for a variety of brain diseases and disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, autism, schizophrenia and drug addiction.
About the Atlas
An enormous undertaking, the Allen Human Brain Atlas is a comprehensive brain- and genome-wide three-dimensional map of the human brain that details where in the brain each gene is expressed, or “turned on.” A truly multi-modal atlas comprising whole-brain imaging, microscopic anatomy and genomic data, all mapped into a common three-dimensional framework, this revolutionary new tool promises to support wide-ranging research programs in neuropharmacology, human brain imaging, human genetics, neuroanatomy, genomics and more. In addition to serving the scientific research community, the Allen Human Brain Atlas is expected to support an even broader community that also includes physicians, students and educators.
To complement the anatomic data, two established experimental techniques will be used to reveal gene expression. First, approximately 1,000 distinct brain areas constituting complete anatomic coverage are sampled from each brain. Each sample is examined using microarray profiling, a genomic analysis technique that yields quantitative readouts of all genes that are expressed in the sampled tissue. Second, selected genes of significant interest to the scientific community—for example, specific disease-related genes—are more precisely mapped within key brain structures using in situ hybridization. Used for the ALLEN Mouse Brain Atlas, this technique pinpoints and marks where a gene is expressed in thin tissue sections, offering microscopic detail down to the level of individual cells.
- Open, public online access
- A detailed, interactive three-dimensional anatomic atlas of the "normal" human brain
- Data from multiple human brains
- Genomic analysis of every brain structure, providing a quantitative inventory of which genes are turned on where
- High-resolution image data for key brain structures, pinpointing where selected genes are expressed down to the cellular level
- Anatomic reference data including whole-brain MRI and high-resolution histology
- Navigation and analysis tools for accessing and mining the data
“ The workings of the human brain and the mechanisms that control its activity remain a mystery. The atlas will provide a remarkably detailed view into gene activity programs in the brain that will help dramatically accelerate our understanding of the molecular basis of mental function and dysfunction. ”