Believe it or not, neuroscience is still considered a relatively new field of medical research. That’s because there’s still a lot of the unknown about our brain. For instance, how do brain cells wire up and function? To answer this question, John Ngai, a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, is creating a brain catalogue or - as researchers call it – an atlas.

“So the idea behind this brain atlas project is to identify all the cell types in the mouse brain as a model for understanding the human brain and then to understand their physiological properties, how they connect with other so this can be used as a basis for understanding not only normal function of the brain, but also how diseases might progress and eventually how you might treat those diseases in human neurological conditions."

The effort is part of the federal government’s BRAIN Initiative, which launched four years ago. Its ultimate goal is to understand brain circuits well enough to devise new therapies for diseases of the human brain and nervous system.

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