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Scientists using living brain tissue to map human brain

Live brain tissue. Photo courtesy of the Allen Institute.

By studying brain tissue that is typically disposed of during surgery, the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle is building 3D, computer reconstructions of the shape and electrical signals sent by brain cells, per NPR.

Christof Koch, chief scientist and president of the institute, told NPR that previous research on the electrical activity of neurons has relied on samples from animals. This research, therefore, could help indicate what is unique about the human brain and bring better understanding of brain diseases. "In order to understand what makes us who we are, we really need to study the human brain," Koch said.