Scientists Find 97 Never-Before-Seen Regions of the Brain

In this age of hoverboards and 3-D-printed food, you might think scientists would have no trouble understanding our internal organs. In fact, our bodies are so complicated that even mapping the topography of the human brain has been quite a challenge. Now, at least, we’re one step closer, as researchers have created the most comprehensive brain map yet. They published their findings in the journal Nature.

Part of the difficulty of mapping the brain lies in its astonishing complexity and sophistication. In order to understand the brain as a whole, scientists need to consider different types of measurements at once. Yet, until now, most brain maps have only considered one element (like cell density or changes in blood flow) at a time. A new paradigm was in order, and so an international team of neuroscientists set out to create one.

They started by pulling brain scan data on 210 healthy young participants in the Human Connectome Project, or HCP. The government-funded HCP is a five-year project that aims to advance scientific understanding of our connectome—the links and pathways inside our brains. Each participant’s file included measurements of the thickness of their cortex; brain function; connections between brain regions; the landscape and orientation of brain cells; and levels of an essential fatty compound called myelin.

By overlaying all of these measurements and looking for patterns, the researchers were able to build a richly detailed diagram of the brain’s many sections. In addition to correctly locating 83 already known regions, the new map also identified another 97 that had never before been spotted. The team then tested out the new technique on the brain scans of another 210 participants to ensure the map was accurate. They found that, like the human body as a whole, there was substantial variation in the size of different parts, but the overall layout was consistent.

The researchers are quite pleased with their findings, but are hardly going to sit back and put their feet up, said lead author Mathew Glasser of Washington University Medical School.

“We’re thinking of this as version 1.0,” Glasser told Nature. “That doesn’t mean it’s the final version, but it’s a far better map than the ones we’ve had before.”

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© 2017 USPS
Pop Culture
Speedy Delivery: Mister Rogers Will Get His Own Stamp in 2018
© 2017 USPS
© 2017 USPS

USPS 2018 Mister Rogers stamp
© 2017 USPS

After weeks of mailing out this year’s holiday cards, postage might be the last thing you want to think about. But the U.S. Postal Service has just given us a sneak peek at the many iconic people, places, and things that will be commemorated with their own stamps in 2018, and one in particular has us excited to send out a few birthday cards: Mister Rogers.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Fred Rogers’s groundbreaking PBS series that the USPS says “inspired and educated young viewers with warmth, sensitivity, and honesty,” the mail service shared a mockup of what the final stamp may look like. On it, Rogers—decked out in one of his trademark colorful cardigans (all of which were hand-knitted by his mom, by the way)—smiles for the camera alongside King Friday XIII, ruler of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

Though no official release date for Fred’s forever stamp has been given, Mister Rogers is just one of many legendary figures whose visages will grace a piece of postage in 2018. Singer/activist Lena Horne will be the 41st figure to appear as part of the USPS’s Black Heritage series, while former Beatle John Lennon will be the face of the newest Music Icons collection. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, will also be honored.

Can You Spot the Christmas Pudding?

Whether it’s a sheep hanging out with Santa Claus or a panda bear hiding among some snowmen, regular Mental Floss readers know that hidden picture brainteasers are one of our favorite things. And the optical experts at have released a delicious one, just in time for Christmas. Somewhere in the midst of all these holiday-themed goodies above, there’s a holiday pudding just waiting to be discovered. Can you spot it? Your time starts … now.

If you give up, or are the kind of person who reads the last page of a book before the first one and just wants to know the answer, scroll down to see where it’s hiding.



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