The picture above is a 3D image of some of the neural connections in an owl-monkey's brain. The Human Connectome Project of the US National Institutes for Health is currently engaged in a similar, but more ambitious project: to map every connection in the human brain. It's like a circuit map for neurologists:
The complexity of the brain and a lack of adequate imaging technology have hampered past research on human brain connectivity. The brain is estimated to contain more than 100 billion neurons that form trillions of connections with each other. Neurons can connect across distant regions of the brain by extending long, slender projections called axons — but the trajectories that axons take within the human brain are almost entirely uncharted.[...]
The field of neuroscience emerged in the late 19th century, when scientists observed individual brain cells for the first time. Since then, researchers have made breathtaking progress in understanding the anatomy, cell biology, physiology and chemistry of the brain in both health and disease. Yet many fundamental questions remain unanswered, including how brain function translates into mental function and why brain function declines with age. Advances in neuroimaging, genomics, computational neuroscience and engineering have put us on the brink of another great era in neuroscience, when we can expect to make unprecedented discoveries regarding normal brain activity, disorders of the brain and our very sense of self.
Press Release and Article Link via GearFuse | Image: Van Wadeen