A group of scientists from Google and Harvard's Lichtman Lab has teamed up to produce a browsable 3D map of a portion of the cerebral cortex in the H01 dataset. The search engine giant and the well-known school used over 225 million photos to create this incredible innovation.
There is no visual map of every single neuron, synapse, and other cells available yet. That makes studying neural circuits in the brain a problematic endeavor.
The team's efforts represent a step advance from work done by Google and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute last year. Interesting Engineering said the teams initially published the world's most giant high-resolution photograph of a fruit fly's brain connection. The human brain was the next logical, although challenging, step.
What Is H01 Dataset?
The H01 dataset is based on a single small section of the human brain, with imaging data covering about one cubic millimeter of brain tissue.
Still, it's a significant step toward creating a new resource for studying the complex human brain and improving and scaling the underlying connectomics technologies, as the team's goals have always been.
And it was a painstaking effort. The dataset contains:
- Tens of thousands of rebuilt neurons.
- Millions of neuron fragments.
- 130 million annotated synapses.
- 104 proofread cells.
- Various subcellular annotations and structures.
All of which could be seen in the Neuroglancer browser interface at your leisure.
Harvard Helps Google Make H01 Dataset
According to a recent post from The Syfy Wire, Harvard University and Google claimed to have created a color-coded map of about 4,000 incoming axons to a single neuron.
The scientists explained in Google AI Blog that they used a one-cubit-millimeter sample from the temporal lobe of a human cerebral cortex to generate their map. First, they sliced the piece into roughly 5,300 30 nm thick slices after staining and coating.
Then, a scanning electron microscope with a resolution of four nanometers was used to photograph these slices. This procedure yielded 225 million 2D photos, which were painstakingly stitched together to form a single 3D volume.
The H01 dataset, one of the world's most comprehensive maps of the human brain, was created after machine learning algorithms scanned the 3D sample to determine its different cells and architecture.
The entire dataset takes up 1.4 petabytes of storage - nearly one million gigabytes - is one of the most remarkable aspects of the endeavor. And that's only for a small part of the human brain.
The pre-print of the study, titled "A connectomic study of a petascale fragment of human cerebral cortex," has been made available on bioRXiv.
Will Google Build A Supercomputer?
Because Google appears to be working on various technologies, it has also stated that it will build its own quantum supercomputer.
According to The Verge, the search engine giant claims that this new technology will be available in 2029. This demonstrates that Google is more than just apps, gadgets, and web browsers. The massive tech company is also capable of branching out into other areas of the industry.
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