How can a mouse help us understand our brains?
Scientists at the Allen Institute for Brain Science are hoping to complete the ‘human brain atlas’ – a project to map gene expression patterns in the brain – by 2012. Meanwhile they are also looking at the brains of other animals. The mouse brain atlas was completed in 2007. By determining which genes are active in each mouse brain cell, scientists discovered that in some areas of the mouse brain as many as 80% of all the genes are switched on – much more than previous estimates. Findings like this may help scientists understand how our brain works.