Scientists publish detailed cellular maps of the human and nonhuman primate brains

Extremely detailed cell maps help pave the way for a new generation of treatments

Press Release

An international team of scientists has mapped the genetic, cellular and structural makeup of the human and non-human primate brains. This understanding of brain structure was achieved through funding from the National Institutes of Health Brain research through advanced neurotechnology The initiative, or BRAIN Initiative, enables a deeper understanding of the cellular basis of brain function and dysfunction, helping pave the way for a new generation of precision therapeutics for people with the disorder. psychosis and other disorders of the brain. These findings appear in a summary of 24 articles across Science, Scientific advanceAnd Medical Science Translation.

Joshua A. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, said mapping the brain’s cellular landscape is an important step toward understanding how this vital organ works. for health and disease. These new detailed cellular maps of the human and non-human primate brain provide a foundation for the design of new therapies that can target specific brain cells and brain circuits involved in the disorder. brain disorder.

The 24 papers in this latest BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Network (BICCN) collection detail the exceptionally complex diversity of cells in the human and non-primate brains. human. Studies identify similarities and differences in cellular organization and gene regulation in the human and primate brains. For example:

  • The three papers in the collection present the first atlas of cells in the adult brain, mapping the transcriptional and epigenetic landscape of the brain. A transcriptome is the complete set of gene readings in a cell, containing instructions for making proteins and other cellular products. The epigenome refers to chemical modifications to a cell’s DNA and chromosomes that change the way the cell’s genetic information is expressed.
  • In another paper, a comparison of the cellular and molecular properties of the human brain and several non-human primate brains (chimpanzee, gorilla, macaque, and marmoset brains) showed similarities. clear agreement on the type, proportion, and spatial organization of cells in the cerebral cortex. of humans and non-human primates. Examination of the genetic expression of cortical cells across species shows that relatively small changes in gene expression in the human lineage have led to changes in the nervous system and synaptic function. neurotransmitters have the potential to allow greater brain plasticity in humans, supporting the human brain’s ability to adapt and learn. , And change.
  • A study exploring how cells differ in different brain regions in marmosets has found a link between the properties of cells in the adult brain and the properties of those cells during development. development. The link suggests that developmental programming is embedded in cells as they are formed and maintained in adulthood, and that some of the cellular properties observable in adults may have origins in early in life. This finding could lead to new insights into brain development and function throughout life.
  • An exploration of the anatomy and physiology of neurons in the outermost layer of the neocortex involved in higher-order functions such as cognition, motor commands, and language has revealed differences differences in the human and mouse brains suggest this region may be an evolutionary hotspot, with changes in humans reflecting a greater need to regulate more complex human brain circuits.

The core purpose of BICCN, a groundbreaking effort to understand the structure of brain cells, is to develop a comprehensive inventory of the cells in the brain, where they are located, how they develop, how they coordinate with each other and how they regulate their activities to better understand how they function. brain disorders that develop, progress, and are best treated.

John Ngai, PhD, director of the NIH BRAIN Initiative, said this series of studies represents a landmark achievement in unraveling the complexity of the human brain at the cellular level. The scientific collaborations forged through BICCN are driving the field forward at an exponential rate; the progress and possibilities are breathtaking.

The census of brain cell types in the human and non-human primate brain presented in this paper collection serves as an important step toward developing future brain treatments. hybrid. The findings also set the stage for the BRAIN Initiative Cell Mapping Network, a transformative project, along with two other large-scale projects, Connecting the BRAIN Initiative at Scale and Equipping weapon for precision brain cell access that aims to revolutionize neuroscience research by unraveling the fundamental principles that govern the circuitry basis of behavior and informing new approaches to treatment brain disorders in humans.

Authority to solve

Maroso, M. (2023). A search into the human brain. Science.


Projects are funded through the NIH BRAIN Initiative Cellular Investigation Network


About the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): Mission of
is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery and cure. For more information, visit the NIMH website.

NIH BRAIN Initiative is managed by 10 Institutes and Centers whose current missions and research portfolios complement the goals of the BRAIN Initiative: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, National Eye Institute, National Eye Institute National Institute on Aging, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Eunice Kennedy Shriver, National Institute on Abuse Drug Abuse, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institute of Mental Health, and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the national health research agency, consists of 27 Institutes and Centers and is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency that conducts and supports basic, clinical, and translational medical research and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases . For more information about NIHand its programs, visit the NIH website.

NIH Turning discovery into health

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