Scientia Professor George Paxinos AO


NHMRC Senior Principal Research Scientist, NeuRA Conjoint Scientia Professor of the School of Medical Sciences, UNSW

Professor George Paxinos is the scientist who mapped the brain of humans and the principal experimental animals. He studied at Berkeley, McGill and Yale and was a visiting scientist at Cambridge, Oxford, Stanford and UCLA. As brain cartographers before him, he publishes his work principally in books, 57 in his case. His first, The Rat Brain in Stereotaxic Coordinates, is the most cited publication in neuroscience and, for three decades, the third most cited book in science.

The First edition of his Atlas of the Human Brain received The Award for Excellence in Publishing in Medical Science from The Association of American Publishers (AAP) and the latest edition the British Medical Association Illustrated Book Award. His Human Brainstem was a 2020 PROSE Award finalist (AAP).

After a 21-year effort, Paxinos wrote a novel in the environmental genre: Orwellian in its encapsulation of the quintessential moral and social dilemmas of the 21st century, A River Divided shows Paxinos is also a storyteller. Cloned ancient genes skip two thousand years to produce identical twins who are raised apart, unaware of the other’s existence, but destined to clash in an almighty battle for the Amazon. You can order the novel at or at,, (for outside Australia).

Click on the red cover to see a ppt presentation of relevant photographs from research trips to Israel, Greece, the Vatican, the Brazilian Amazon and Bueno Aires.

Prof Paxinos’s most significant atlases and books
The Paxinos and Watson Collaboration
Nissl and AChE Staining Protocols for Beginners
The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Integrative Brain Function
Brain Dialogue: MRI/DTI Rat Brain Atlas

Projects Scientia Professor George Paxinos AO is currently involved with


Caress the Detail: A Comprehensive MRI Atlas of the in Vivo Human Brain

This project aims to deliver the most comprehensive, detailed and stereotaxically accurate MRI atlas of the canonical human brain.

In human neuroscience, researchers and clinicians almost always investigate images obtained from living individuals. Yet, there is no satisfactory MRI atlas of the human brain in vivo or post-mortem. There are some population-based atlases, which valiantly solve a number of problems, but they fail to address major needs. Most problematically, they segment only a small number of brain structures, typically about 50, and they are of limited value for the interpretation of a single subject/patient.

In contrast to population-based approaches, the present project will investigate normal, living subjects in detail. We aim to define approximately 800 structures, as in the histological atlas of Mai, Majtanik and Paxinos (2016), and, thus, provide a “gold standard” for science and clinical practice. We will do this by obtaining high-resolution MRI at 3T and 7T of twelve subjects through a collaboration with Markus Barth from the Centre for Advanced Imaging at the University of Queensland (UQ). The limited number of subjects will allow us to image each for longer periods, obtaining higher resolution and contrast, and to invest the required time to produce unprecedented detail in segmentation.

We will produce an electronic atlas for interpreting MR images, both as a tablet application and as an online web service. The tablet application will provide a convenient and powerful exegesis of brain anatomy for researchers and clinicians. The open access web service will additionally provide images, segmentation and anatomical templates to be used with most common MR-analysis packages (e.g., SPM, FSL, MINC, BrainVoyager). This will be hosted in collaboration with UQ, supporting and complementing their population-based atlas.


Caress the Detail: A Comprehensive MRI Atlas of the in Vivo Human Brain

High Resolution MRI Atlas of the Mouse Brain

The most recent project completed by Paxinos and Watson was the publication, in book form, of the first of a new generation of atlases exploiting the power of magnetic resonance histology, diffusion tensor imaging and digital atlasing. With the combined experience of Prof. Paxinos and Al Johnson (a Professor of Radiology, Physics, and Biomedical Engineering from Duke University) and support from The ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrative Brain Function based at Monash University, an MRI/DTI atlas of the rat brain was constucted , and the next step is the construction of an equivalent mouse brain atlas that can be used as a reference for researchers working with mice, particularly transgenic mice. Accurate brain atlases are essential to studies using animal models of human brain pathology, such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. By far the most widely used animal brain atlas for transgenic mice is the histological atlas of the mouse brain by Paxinos and Franklin. The new MRI/DTI atlas of the mouse brain will be directly compatible with the histological atlas (Paxinos and Franklin 4th Ed., 2013). An accurate MR atlas would have many practical and technical advantages over a histological atlas, including the fact that it can generate 3D images, and can be used with living animals, which can be scanned repeatedly without injury.


High Resolution MRI Atlas of the Mouse Brain

A 3D Cross-Modality Atlas of the Human Brainstem for Scientists and Clinicians

In collaboration with MR experts Al Johnson (a Professor of Radiology, Physics, and Biomedical Engineering from Duke University) and Dr Mark Schira at the University of Wollongong, we are constructing an electronic atlas of the human brainstem. The atlas will combine in vivo magnetic resonance imaging, magnetic resonance microscopy, and histological images and be compatible with tablet computers to provide a convenient, yet powerful, reference for research and clinical use. We will also create an anatomical template to be used with most common MR-analysis packages (e.g., SPM, FSL, MINC, and BrainVoyager), to allow fast and effective alignment and warping of new data into the atlas framework.


A 3D Cross-Modality Atlas of the Human Brainstem for Scientists and Clinicians