Research Topic

Producing and Analyzing Macro-Connectomes: Current State and Challenges

About this Research Topic

Construction of comprehensive and detailed structural brain regions connections matrices (macro-connectomes) is fundamental for understanding the organization of the nervous system of any species, and for elucidation of its different parts functionalities. Macro-connectomes are also the structural foundation ...

Construction of comprehensive and detailed structural brain regions connections matrices (macro-connectomes) is fundamental for understanding the organization of the nervous system of any species, and for elucidation of its different parts functionalities. Macro-connectomes are also the structural foundation of any finer granularity approaches: the neurons classes (meso-connectomes) and individual neurons (micro-connectomes) levels.
The advent of novel neuroanatomical methods, as well as the application of combinations of the classic techniques allowed the start of several large scale projects with the ultimate goal of producing publicly available macro-connectomes. A parallel approach, that of systematic and comprehensive collation of connectivity data from the published literature and recorded in publicly accessible neuroinformatics platforms, already produced macro-connectomes of different parts of the central nervous system (CNS) in several mammalian species.
The emergence of these public platforms that will allow manipulation of rich connectivity data sets and will enable construction of CNS macro-connectomes in different species will have significant and long lasting implications. These parallel efforts to elucidate the CNS structural foundation, leveraged by novel statistical methods, may influence our way of thinking about the brain. Thus, the present brain region-centric paradigm may be changed with a network-centric one. Ultimately, these projects will provide the necessary information and knowledge for understanding the functionality of different CNS parts, and for novel approaches of diseases and disorders.
With this Research Topic, we aim to bring together the current state of macro-connectome related projects in mice, rats, monkeys and humans: from the large scale production of thousands publicly available neuronatomical experiments, to databases with tenths of thousands of connectivity records collated from the published literature, to the newest methods of display and analysis of this information. We also include in this Topic a wide range of challenges and how they are specifically addressed: from platforms designed to integrate connectivity data across different sources, species, and CNS levels of organization, to languages specifically designed to use these data in models at different scales of resolutions, to efforts of 3D reconstruction and data integration, and to those of representation and extraction of this knowledge either directly from experimental results or from the published literature. Finally, we address the present state of different efforts of meso-connectomes construction and modeling in the context of the information provided by macro-connectomes.


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