Researchers publish world's most detailed brain scans

Researchers have published the most detailed brain scans in the world as part of the Human Connectome Project. The scans were taken of 68 adults who are part of the study, with the aim being to determine how an individual's brain makes up the various parts of them – their personality, talents, behaviors. This is just the start, however, with the researchers' ultimate goal being to scan 1,200 brains.

The information collected through the project is made available for no charge to neuroscientists in an effort to aid in the advancement of brain science. The brain scans take place over the course of four hours, during which the volunteers will perform tasks and tests, such as basic math, listening tasks, following instructions to move certain body parts, and more. This allows the researchers to see what parts of the brain are involved in different tasks.

The scans show the individual make up of each volunteer's brain. The goal of this is to amass data on healthy brains, showing how, for example, neural pathways are involved in a person's behavior and such. At some point, this data can be used to identify the differences between individuals, and what the differences could mean in terms of talents, thoughts, personalities, and more.

The project's leader David Van Essen, a professor at Washington University, stated to BBC News in an interview that, "We are very optimistic that as the community delves in and begins working on these data sets, they will reveal new insights into the brain circuits of healthy adults ... We have the highest quality data of the entire human brain that the world has ever seen. The question is that with more cutting edge (scanning) methods, how much can we decipher the circuits that give us our distinctive capabilities?"

[via BBC News]