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Illustration by Laurène Boglio

Community Newsletter: Brain sizes; Project Vesuvius; head-turning Neuropixels tool

This week, neuroscientists weighed in on differing brain sizes, Project Vesuvius and a Neuropixels tool.

What accounts for individual differences in brain size? It “varies ~2-fold across adults, ~100 fold across primates, and nonlinearly changes across the lifespan,” tweeted Jakob Seidlitz, a postdoctoral fellow at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

In a bioRxiv preprint, Seidlitz and his colleagues analyzed postmortem brain samples from 2,531 people and found that brain weight correlated with expression differences in 928 genes.

Armin Raznahan, chief of the Section on Developmental Neurogenomics at the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, called the work a “beautiful triangulation using diverse methods to dissect out molecular underpinnings of human brain size variation!”

“Amazing work on a highly informative and under-studied phenotype — brain weight!” tweeted Ted Satterthwaite, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

“The great @jakob_seidlitz and co have picked up on something really profound here,” tweeted Jacob Vogel, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania.

This next research thread had Twitter users practically exploding with excitement: Project Vesuvius is “a resource of cellular phenotypes for knockouts of every essential human gene,” tweeted Iain Cheeseman, professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Veronica Rodriguez-Bravo, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, called the project “a fantastic eruption of data and Herculean effort!”

Georgia Kafer, lecturer in biomedical science at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, said the project was aptly named, tweeting, “This is actually blowing my mind!”

“Someone was telling me about this technique last week and I was absolutely floored,” tweeted Paul Carman, business development manager at Araceli Biosciences in Hillsboro, Oregon.

Another head-turning resource, created and shared by Emily Aery Jones, a postdoctoral scholar in neurobiology at Stanford University in California, anchored this next thread.

“Interested in freely moving recordings using Neuropixels? I’m releasing the build files, code, parts lists, and detailed protocols for my chronic recoverable implant in mice design,” Aery Jones tweeted.

The resource includes protocols to “chronically, recoverably implant Neuropixels 1.0 probes into mice and record during a freely moving automated (non)match to direction task.”

Matt Gaidica, a neuroscientist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, asked, “Is that copper (mini Faraday cage?) or kapton tape?”

Aery Jones also tweeted, “If you’re attending #SfN22 and want to discuss chronic recoverable designs, I’d love to chat!”

Speaking of Neuroscience 2022, if you’re attending the meeting in person or virtually, join our live Twitter chat on Monday, 14 November, at 12:00 p.m. PST. Discuss science from the conference and weigh in on questions posted by @Spectrum using the hashtag #SFNChat.

That’s it for this week’s Community Newsletter! If you have any suggestions for interesting social posts you saw in the autism research sphere, feel free to send an email to [email protected].

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