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04 Dec 2018

World-renowned cartographer of the brain, Scientia Professor George Paxinos AO from Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA), has discovered a hidden region of the human brain.

The region is found near the brain-spinal cord junction and Professor Paxinos has named it the Endorestiform Nucleus.

Professor Paxinos suspected the existence of the Endorestiform Nucleus 30 years ago but has only now been able to see it with better staining and imaging techniques. Commenting on this discovery, Professor Paxinos said it's like finding a new star.

“There is nothing more pleasant for a neuroscientist than identifying a hitherto unknown area of the human brain. In this case, there is also the intrigue that this area is absent in monkeys and other animals,” said Professor Paxinos, adding, “there have to be some things that are unique about the human brain besides its larger size, and this may be one of them.”

The discovery of new brain regions helps researchers to explore cures for diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and motor neuron disease.The Endorestiform Nucleus was noticed when Professor Paxinos introduced the use of chemical stains, combined with imaging techniques, in the production of his latest atlas.

The Endorestiform Nucleus is located within the inferior cerebellar peduncle, an area that integrates sensory and motor information to refine our posture, balance and fine movements.

“I can only guess as to its function, but given the part of the brain where it has been found, it might be involved in fine motor control,” said Professor Paxinos.

Many neuroscientists researching neurological or psychiatric diseases, in humans or animal models, use Professor Paxinos’ maps as guides for their work.

An increasingly detailed understanding of the architecture and connectivity of the nervous system has been central to most major discoveries in neuroscience in the past 100 years.

“Professor Paxinos’ atlases, showing detailed morphology and connections of the human brain and spinal cord, provide a critical framework for researchers to test hypotheses from synaptic function to treatments for diseases of the brain,” said Professor Peter Schofield, CEO at NeuRA.

“It is truly an honour for Elsevier to be continuing Professor Paxinos’ legacy of publishing with us,” said Natalie Farra, Senior Editor at Elsevier. “His books are world-renowned for their expertise and utility for brain mapping, and for their contributions to our understanding of the structure, function and development of the brain.”

Professor Paxinos is the author of the most cited publication in neuroscience and another 52 books of highly detailed maps of the brain. The maps chart the course for neurosurgery and neuroscience research, enabling exploration, discovery and the development of treatments for diseases and disorders of the brain.

The discovery of the Endorestiform Nucleus, is detailed in Professor Paxinos latest book titled Human Brainstem: Cytoarchitecture, Chemoarchitecture, Myeloarchitecture.

Published: 04 Dec 2018