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Mapping a brain atlas
Date:9/7/2010

Uncovering the secrets of the brain requires an intense network of collaborative research. Building on a tool that was co-developed in his laboratory and described in a recent issue of Brain, Dr. Yaniv Assaf of Tel Aviv University's Department of Neurobiology is collaborating with an international team of scientists to understand how different parts of the human brain "connect" -- and to turn this information into a "brain atlas."

Brain researchers already know that autism and schizophrenia are not localized disorders there is no one place in the brain they can be found. That's why a brain atlas will be an invaluable resource for understanding how parts of our brain connect to other parts within, leading to a deeper understanding of these diseases.

"It's currently impossible for clinicians to 'see' subtle disorders in the brain that might cause a life-threatening, devastating disability," says Dr. Assaf, whose most recent research was done in collaboration with the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Developmental disorders like autism are believed to be a function of abnormal connections among different regions within the brain like wires between telephone poles. In his research, Dr. Assaf looks at clusters of brain wiring, or axons, to help scientists produce a better working map of the brain for future research.

Mapping biomarkers

Axons connect brain cells. About one micron (one millionth of a meter) in diameter, these tiny axons transfer information to each other and to different parts of the brain. To date there has been no non-invasive imaging technique that can let scientists "see" such features in the brain in a living person -- partly because the axons are so small, and partly because of the delicate nature of the brain.

Dr. Assaf's tool can look at larger groups of multiple axons and collect information from the group itself, information which measures the velocity and flow of information wi
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert

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