Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain researchers start mapping the human 'connectome'

Date:
July 2, 2012
Source:
Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
Summary:
A research effort called the Human Connectome Project is seeking to explore, define, and map the functional connections of the human brain.

A research effort called the Human Connectome Project is seeking to explore, define, and map the functional connections of the human brain. An update on progress in and upcoming plans for the Human Connectome Project appears in the July issue of Neurosurgery, official journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.

The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.

Analogous to the Human Genome Project -- which mapped the human genetic code -- the Human Connectome Project seeks to map "the complete, point-to-point spatial connectivity of neural pathways in the brain," according to Arthur W. Toga, PhD, and colleagues of David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles. They write, "For neuroscientists and the lay public alike, the ability to assess, measure, and explore this wealth of layered information concerning how the brain is wired is a much sought after prize."

'Connectome' Mapping to Understand Brain Functional Networks

The 100 billion neurons of the human nervous system interconnect to form a relatively small number of "functional neural networks" responsible for behavior and thought. However, even after more than a century of research, there is no comprehensive map of the connections of the human brain.

Historically, studies of the human brain function have employed a "modular" view -- for example, "region X is responsible for function Y." However, a more appropriate approach is to consider which network of two or more "connected or interacting" regions is involved in a given function. Until recently, it was not possible to view networks in the living brain.

But newer magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods sensitive to water diffusion have made it possible to create detailed maps of the underlying white matter connections between different areas of the brain. This opens the way to new approaches to mapping the structural connectivity of the brain, and showing it in ways that correspond to the brain anatomy.

Researchers are working out ways to analyze these data using sophisticated modeling approaches to represent the "nodes and connections" that make up the functional networks of the brain. Such efforts are in their infancy, but these network models are capturing not only the connectedness of brain networks, but also their capacity to process information.

Data Will Lend Insights into Alzheimer's, Autism and Other Diseases

Preliminary studies have yielded tantalizing findings, such as a link between more efficient cortical networks and increased intelligence and differences in connectedness between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. "The HCP has recently generated considerable interest because of its potential to explore connectivity and its relationship with genetics and behavior," Dr. Toga and coauthors write.

The project has far-reaching implications for a wide range of neurological and psychiatric diseases, such as autism, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer's disease. "The similarities and differences that mark normal diversity will help us to understand variation among people and set the stage to chart genetic influences on typical brain development and decline in human disease," according to the authors.

Dr. Toga and colleagues are making their data available for download and analysis by other researchers on the project website, http://www.humanconnectomeproject.org/. In the future, the data will be openly available for exploration by the public. Meanwhile, a gallery of beautiful and fascinating images illustrating the various modeling techniques and preliminary findings on brain connectivity can be viewed at http://www.humanconnectomeproject.org/gallery/.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Arthur W. Toga, Kristi A. Clark, Paul M. Thompson, David W. Shattuck, John Darrell Van Horn. Mapping the Human Connectome. Neurosurgery, 2012; 71 (1): 1 DOI: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e318258e9ff

Cite This Page:

Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. "Brain researchers start mapping the human 'connectome'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120702152652.htm>.
Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. (2012, July 2). Brain researchers start mapping the human 'connectome'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120702152652.htm
Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. "Brain researchers start mapping the human 'connectome'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120702152652.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Researchers say women who diet at a young age are at greater risk of developing harmful health habits, including eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins