Wednesday, January 08, 2014

I'll Show You My Brain If You'll Show Me Yours

If I could go back in time and decide on a career, I would be a neuroscientist.  I am fascinated with the brain and how every human being has the same basic brain structure, but think differently, behave differently, believe different things and actually are as unique as their fingerprints.  No other part of the body is capable of such variety - my femur works like your femur, my ears and yours hear the same music, our lungs breathe in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide.  But the brain?  Wow, can it ever be different from person to person.   I would love to have Dr. Deanna Barch's job! 
Myelin-coated nerve fibers are very important in connectivity. Areas in red and yellow have high myelin content; darker areas have lower content. M. F. Glasser and D.C. Van Essen for the WU-Minn HCP Consortium
Deanna Barch is a psychologist by training and inclination who has concentrated on neuroscience because of the desire to understand severe mental illness.  She and her colleagues are working on the first interactive wiring diagram of the living, working human brain.  She and the others working on the project hope that the data they gather will help us understand how disorders of connectivity, or disorders of wiring, contribute to or cause neurological problems and psychiatric problems.
The Human Connectome Project is one of a growing number of large, collaborative information-gathering efforts that signal a new level of excitement in neuroscience, as rapid technological advances seem to be bringing the dream of figuring out the human brain into the realm of reality.
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