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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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26 Facts About LEGO Bricks

Since it first added plastic, interlocking bricks to its lineup, the Danish toy company LEGO (from the words Leg Godt for “play well”) has inspired builders of all ages to bring their most imaginative designs to life. Sets have ranged in size from scenes that can be assembled in a few minutes to 5000-piece behemoths depicting famous landmarks. And tinkerers aren’t limited to the sets they find in stores. One of the largest LEGO creations was a life-sized home in the UK that required 3.2 million tiny bricks to construct.

In this episode of the List Show, John Green lays out 26 playful facts about one of the world’s most beloved toy brands. To hear about the LEGO black market, the vault containing every LEGO set ever released, and more, check out the video above then subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up-to-date with the latest flossy content.

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Of Buckeyes and Butternuts: 29 States With Weird Nicknames for Their Residents
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Tracing a word’s origin and evolution can yield fascinating historical insights—and the weird nicknames used in some states to describe their residents are no exception. In the Mental Floss video above, host John Green explains the probable etymologies of 29 monikers that describe inhabitants of certain states across the country.

Some of these nicknames, like “Hoosiers” and “Arkies” (which denote residents of Indiana and Arkansas, respectively) may have slightly offensive connotations, while others—including "Buckeyes," "Jayhawks," "Butternuts," and "Tar Heels"—evoke the military histories of Ohio, Kansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. And a few, like “Muskrats” and “Sourdoughs,” are even inspired by early foods eaten in Delaware and Alaska. ("Goober-grabber" sounds goofier, but it at least refers to peanuts, which are a common crop in Georgia, as well as North Carolina and Arkansas.)

Learn more fascinating facts about states' nicknames for their residents by watching the video above.

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