BigBrain, the first 3D microstructural model of the entire human brain, created at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital—The Neuro, McGill University, in collaboration with researchers at Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany, is free and has been made publicly available to researchers worldwide. The BigBrain atlas offers researchers the ability to zoom into the brain to see various cells with unprecedented resolution.

“To put BigBrain in context we can consider present day MRIs which have a 3D spatial resolution of 1mm. In comparison, the BigBrain data set is 50 times smaller in each dimension providing unmatched spatial resolution. The BigBrain data set is 125,000 times bigger than a typical MRI, and has a volume of 1 terabyte,” says Dr. Alan Evans, researcher at The Neuro, co-founder of the International Consortium for Brain Mapping and co-creator of the atlas.

Researchers worldwide will be able to download brain sections from the BigBrain website at . Big Brain is reconstructed from 7404 histological brain sections which were stained for cell bodies, and then digitized, taking advantage of recent progress in computing capacities, brain images analysis, and the teams’ experience in processing complete histological sections of the brain.

BigBrain will vastly improve the importance and interpretation of low-resolution dynamic in vivo data obtained by MRI and PET, by combining the data with the enormous detail and spatial resolution of the static BigBrain atlas. It will enhance neurosurgical procedures, for example placing deep brain stimulators and will advance clinical research, for example, localizing the site of intractable epilepsy to certain specific type of nerve cells.