For Lein and his colleagues, however, concentrating their efforts on only one brain allowed them to go into a lot more detail with their work.“Because of the labor intensiveness of doing this, it always lives in the scale of a single brain,” Lein says, “and you really go to town in trying to understand everything you can about that one individual.The researchers also took a subset of the Nissl-stained slides and used them to catalogue 862 different brain structures, including novel subregions of the thalamus and the amygdala, and two other structures that previously had only been described in non-human primates.The key step in creating a complete brain atlas was combining broad-scale, high-resolution brain imaging data with detailed cellular-level mapping, which the researchers then annotated with the brain structures they identified. Lein explains that the atlas can be accessed via a portal, where people can “navigate it, and move from the macro level all the way right into the cellular level.” Lein thinks the atlas may be a particularly valuable tool for neuroscientists who can use it as a common starting point and add layers of annotation based on their own criteria for dividing up the brain.
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They stained a portion of the sections with a traditional Nissl stain to gather information about general cell architecture.
They then used two other stains to selectively label certain aspects of the brain, including structural elements of cells, fibers in the white matter, and specific types of neurons.
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