The first atlas of the human brain: revealing over 3,000 cell types

October 22, 2023

This research is a collaborative initiative of the US National Institutes of Health’s Brain Research which aimed at creating the largest map of the human brain ever developed, showcasing over 3,000 cell types, a big proportion being new to the scientific world. 

The study comprises 21 papers published in Science, Science Advances and Science Translational Medicine, that extensively explore the cellular types, mechanisms and interactions that makes us human, as well as the complexity of brain diseases and potential molecular treatment targets.

“It’s highly significant,” says Anthony Hannan, a neuroscientist at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health in Melbourne, Australia. Researchers have previously mapped the human brain using techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging, but this is the first atlas of the whole human brain at the single-cell level, showing its intricate molecular interactions, adds Hannan. “These types of atlases really are laying the groundwork for a much better understanding of the human brain.”