Human Connectome Project

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The Human Connectome Project is a US-led effort to map the human brain. The HCP is a five-year project funded by the National Institutes of Health.On September 15, 2010, the NIH announced that it would award two grants: $30 million over five years to a consortium led by Washington University in Saint Louis and the University of Minnesota, and $8.5 million over three years to a consortium led by Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of California Los Angeles.[1] The aim of the $40m programme is to map the entire human neural wiring system by scanning the brains of 1,200 Americans.[2] The project uses magnetic resonance imaging.

Like the Human Genome Project, the data will be publicly released to scientists as the scans are processed. The first data from 80 to100 people will be released in a few weeks' time.

Scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital are pushing the technique to its limits with a purpose-built scanner. It is one of the most powerful scanners in the world. The scanner's magnets need 22MW (megawatts) of electricity – enough to power a nuclear submarine. It was specially built for this project "4 to 8 times as powerful as conventional systems, enabling imaging of human neuroanatomy with much greater sensitivity than is currently possible".[1]

What the scans show is the way various brain centres are connected to each other.[3]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 $40 million awarded to trace human brain's connections, National Institutes of Health, 2010-09-15, http://www.nih.gov/news/health/sep2010/nimh-15.htm, retrieved 2013-02-16, "Souped-up scanners to reveal intricate circuitry in high resolution"
  2. Human Connectome Project website [1]
  3. Ghosh, Pabal 2013. Scans reveal intricate brain wiring. BBC News Science & Environment. [2]