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maps of the brain

Mark Bieda mbieda at DAIN.STANFORD.EDU
Thu May 28 01:10:18 EST 1992

there has been a lot of recent commentary on the desire/need/usefulness
of a map of the brain indicating connections. I have to agree that
such a map would be very useful. A few points have been overlooked:

1) such maps exist: in the minds of anatomists, in texts on neuroanatomy, and finally now we are just beginning to get good computerized maps.
There are partial ones available for the rodent and human brains, and
NIH is contemplating a major project to assemble just such a 
computerized database (or has it decided to? anyone current on the

2) These maps that I refer to in (1) are mostly strictly anatomical 
maps that can be defined by clear anatomical methods. Our knowledge
of connections in the brainstem is perhaps the best example of this
approach. However, what is more interesting from the computation
perspective would be maps of functional areas. These maps are
generally not available - fuctional areas often cross borders 
defined by more accessible techniques (projection mapping, staining
for certain neurotransmitter/modulator substances).The fundamental
problem here is that we don't have "simple" methods for easily
demonstrating the connections of functional areas (as opposed to 
anatomical areas).

3) There is intense recent work on functional areas employing a 
wide range of techniques. Since this type of research is in a state
of great flux, including the requisite debates on various issues, it is
a bit unrealistic to ask for a map of functional areas on any large
scale. I would suggest that you check into the specific issues that
interest you instead of looking for a general source of information.
Good luck!

Mark Bieda
Stanford Neuroscience Program
mbieda at psych.stanford.edu

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