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Q&A: What is the Open Connectome Project?

Joshua T Vogelstein

Author Affiliations

Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics, John Hopkins University,100 Whitehead Hall, 3400 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218-2682, USA

Neural Systems & Circuits 2011, 1:16  doi:10.1186/2042-1001-1-16

Published: 18 November 2011

First paragraph (this article has no abstract)

Although it has been over a century since neuroscientists first conjectured that networks of neurons comprise the brain, technology has limited high-throughput investigations of neural circuitry until very recently. In the last couple of decades, several experimental paradigms have arisen that are poised to finally begin studying neuroanatomy in a high-throughput fashion. In 2005, the term connectome was coined independently by Patric Hagmann [1] and Olaf Sporns [2], to describe the complete set of neural connections in a brain. Interestingly, both usages seemed to be referring to using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to study human brain networks. Shortly thereafter, Narayanan "Bobby" Kasthuri and Jeff Lichtman published an article [3,4] suggesting that "connectome" should refer to connections between neurons, which one can infer using Electron Microscopy (EM) and fluorescence microscopy (e.g., brainbow animals [5]) "Projectome", they suggested, is more appropriate for MRI based studies. Yet, the word connectome stuck, and now refers to essentially any neuroscientific investigation of the relationship between (collections of) neurons, be they functional or structural.