RESOURCES: Whole Brain Catalog

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Science  18 May 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5520, pp. 1267
DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5520.1267b

Spending too much time trying to figure out what's going on inside your head. For neuroscientists baffled by the many alternative names given to similar central nervous system structures in different species, BrainInfo offers welcome relief. The new site sorts out 6500 names and synonyms for about 860 structures and gathers information on them from various Web databases.

Type in hippocampus, for example, and the site will tell you where this structure fits in a hierarchy of brain parts, list 22 related terms or synonyms, and link to a PubMed search for abstracts using all these alternatives. Other buttons bring up line drawings of macaque brains showing the component you seek, or troll outside databases for magnetic resonance imaging scans, 3D computer models, and info on neurons. Alternatively, visitors can start with a diagram of a whole macaque brain and zoom in on structures.

BrainInfo's curators at the University of Washington's Regional Primate Research Center haven't yet added descriptions of the structures and their functions, which will make it more useful to lay visitors. Still, says Mark F. Dubach, a site manager, it's already a boon to researchers who need information fast.

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