How can we begin to understand the complexity of the human brain and the way it works? The same way we begin to understand a city: by making a map. This approach is a tremendous challenge for neuroscientists, as not only the framework in the form of a map, but also the gene activities of various sub-regions of the brain play a key role for understanding cerebral processes. To explore this region-specific level of expression, it is essential to study the gene expression of the sub-regions separately.
In this talk from TEDGlobal 2011, Allan Jones shows how the Allen Institute for Brain Science is mapping which genes are turned on in each tiny region, and how it all connects up. For the targeted contamination- and contact-free isolation of even the tiniest sub-regions, the Allen Institute team uses a Laser Microdissection System (LMD) from Leica Microsystems. Laser microdissection therefore helps scientists understand which specific genes are turned on and in which regions of the brain, enabling conclusions to be drawn about neuronal switches and connections.
The Allen Institute for Brain Science is a nonprofit medical research organization. As part of its mission to accelerate understanding of the human brain, it generates open public resources for the global research community. The Allen Human Brain Atlas, described in this talk, is publicly available online via the Allen Brain Atlas data portal.