Tuesday, July 14, 2009

BPN 1359 Elsevier Launches BrainNavigator

The science publisher Elsevier has launched the official version of BrainNavigator, a neuroscience research tool developed in collaboration with the Allen Institute for Brain Science and under the editorship of Professor George Paxinos and Charles Watson, Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute, Sydney. At the Society for Neuroscience's Neuroscience 2008 tradeshow last November, the prototype version of the rodent brain version was unveiled. In a press release the publisher names the BrainNavigator the new GPS system for the brain, helping to visualise brain structures. This version includes complete information for the rat brain and the mouse brain, and ongoing releases of other species are planned.

BrainNavigator is an online, interactive, 3D software tool that maps brain images and anatomy, helping researchers, especially neuroscientists, save time and improve the quality of their daily research. BrainNavigator helps locate the position of structures within the brain, similar to a GPS system, making visualization and understanding of the brain easier.

The BrainNavigator is a typical example of publishers innovating resources and marketing methods. Traditionally, researchers used print atlases to help them identify structures, for example when viewing brain tissue under a microscope. Now, with BrainNavigator, which combines atlas maps in one easy-to-navigate web-based system, researchers can view detailed images of each brain section. Brain images are no longer only shown as flat maps but also as objects with depth. A particular advance is the facility to create virtual sections from the 3D brain model at very high detail and quality to mimic the real situation in the biological tissue in the laboratory.

The BrainNavigator is not the first resource for brain representation, published by Elsevier Science. In 1993 Elsevier started a CD-I and CD-ROM series under the name of Interactive Anatomy, produced by Tom Zoutewelle Media Productions. The first instalment was part of the Neck and Skull and specifically on Paranasal Sinuses & Anterior Skull Base. The resource contained a series of computer tomographic images. I remember the slice images of the anterior brain. In order to see them again I would have to go to my disc museum. I remember that the disk was originally produced as a CD-I disk. But as the CD-I was hardly sold elsewhere in the world, the producer pressed a CD-ROM disk in order not to disappoint scientists outside the Netherlands. Since we have left the era of Frozen Bandwidth, the online BrainNavigator is a more appropriate medium.

Elsevier is also putting new marketing methods to the resource. Offering both free and subscription-based content, all users will be able to browse images and structures. Paid subscribers will enjoy using high resolution images, adjustable virtual slicing and having the ability to annotate and save their work and share it with their colleagues globally, among other features. Details regarding BrainNavigator's functionality can be found at www.brainnav.com/info.

Blog Post Number: 1359


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