Human Brain Mapping methods

Human brain mapping

We are entering a new era in the neurosciences, in which development of technology will be in the spotlight. In this Focus, experts outline the different technologies needed to obtain anatomical and functional brain maps across species, and discuss the importance of assembling these maps and what will be needed beyond them, to understand the functioning of the brain.


From the connectome to brain function - pp483 - 490

Cornelia I Bargmann
&
Eve Marder

doi:10.1038/nmeth.2451

In this Historical Perspective, we ask what information is needed beyond connectivity diagrams to understand the function of nervous systems. Informed by invertebrate circuits whose connectivities are known, we highlight the importance of neuronal dynamics and neuromodulation, and the existence of parallel circuits. The vertebrate retina has these features in common with invertebrate circuits, suggesting that they are general across animals. Comparisons across these systems suggest approaches to study the functional organization of large circuits based on existing knowledge of small circuits.

Why not connectomics? - pp494 - 500

Joshua L Morgan
&
Jeff W Lichtman

doi:10.1038/nmeth.2480

Opinions diverge on whether mapping the synaptic connectivity of the brain is a good idea. Here we argue that albeit their limitations, such maps will reveal essential characteristics of neural circuits that would otherwise be inaccessible.

CLARITY for mapping the nervous system - pp508 - 513

Kwanghun Chung
&
Karl Deisseroth

doi:10.1038/nmeth.2481

With potential relevance for brain-mapping work, hydrogel-based structures can now be built from within biological tissue to allow subsequent removal of lipids without mechanical disassembly of the tissue. This process creates a tissue-hydrogel hybrid that is physically stable, that preserves fine structure, proteins and nucleic acids, and that is permeable to both visible-spectrum photons and exogenous macromolecules. Here we highlight relevant challenges and opportunities of this approach, especially with regard to integration with complementary methodologies for brain-mapping studies.

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Q&A

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What is one method scientists are using to map the functions of the brain?

One method that neuropsychologists use is performing brain scans like MRIs or CAT scans on patients to map the function of the brain.

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