Research Topic

Mapping the connectome: Multi-level analysis of brain connectivity

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The brain contains vast numbers of interconnected neurons that constitute functional networks. Structural descriptions of neuronal network elements and connections make up ‘the connectome’ of the brain, and are important for understanding normal brain function and disease-related dysfunction. A long-standing ...

The brain contains vast numbers of interconnected neurons that constitute functional networks. Structural descriptions of neuronal network elements and connections make up ‘the connectome’ of the brain, and are important for understanding normal brain function and disease-related dysfunction. A long-standing ambition of the neuroscience community is to achieve complete connectome maps for the human brain as well as primate and rodent brains. Currently, a wide repertoire of experimental tools is available for neural connectivity mapping at multiple levels of scale, from tracing of major pathways and trajectories, mapping of axonal distribution patterns, to the identification of the molecular properties of individual synapses. But, despite numerous connectivity studies through many decades, we are still far from achieving comprehensive descriptions of the connectome. There is increasing awareness that new neuroinformatics tools and strategies are needed to achieve the goal of compiling the brain’s connectome, and that any such effort will require systematic, large-scale approaches. Initial attempts involving systematic literature mining have yielded promising results, but more coordinated efforts are needed to collect, organize and disseminate connectome data sets. To this end, there is an urgent need to develop and identify neuroinformatics approaches that allow different levels of connectivity data to be described, integrated, compared, and shared within the broader neuroscience community. With this Research Topic, we aim to bring together different levels of connectivity analysis (from MRI-based methods, through axonal tracing techniques, to detailed EM-level synapse reconstructions), to elucidate neuroinformatics-related challenges at the level of data management, data comparison and analysis, and use of connectome data for neurocomputational models. We encourage contributions related to all aspects of brain connectomics, with particular focus on state-of-the art tools for mapping connectivity, data sharing and comparison, and integration across different levels of mapping.

This Research Topic of Frontiers in Neuroinformatics is dedicated to the memory of Rolf Kötter, a pioneer in the field of brain connectomics.

Abstract Submission deadline: November 7, 2010 (1 page abstract).
Article Submission deadline: March 18, 2011 (full article submission).


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