The Human Connectome: Views from MRI and Microscopy

03/28/2010 - 03/31/2010
Ewha Womans University
THE HUMAN CONNECTOME: VIEWS FROM MRI and MICROSCOPY In March 2010, we will gather leading researchers studying brain connectivity using the methods of MRI and microscopy. These methods are complementary because MRI can be applied in vivo but has low spatial resolution, whereas microscopy has high spatial resolution but is applied postmortem. We believe that it is time to bring together the MRI and microscopy communities to discuss the prospects for a complete map of the white matter connectivity of the human brain, as well as the implications of such a map for brain function. The conference will begin on March 28 and end on March 30, 2010. It will take place in Seoul, Korea, with major funding from the National Institute for Mathematical Sciences ( ) Some Questions for Discussion: MRI What are the capabilities of the current tractography methods, and what are the fundamental limitations? Postmortem tissue preparation How can white matter structure be best preserved after death? Sectioning and collection What is the state of the art in automated cutting and collection of brain sections? Light and electron microscopy What are the capabilities of these methods, and can they be scaled up to the human brain? Spatial resolution What is the minimum size of axonal bundles in the white matter, and what spatial resolution is necessary for a complete map of white matter connectivity? Validation Can microscopy and MRI be combined to generate datasets for the testing and validation of tractography algorithms based on MRI data? Sparse vs. dense reconstruction In sparse reconstruction, only one or a few tracts are traced in each brain, and many brains are analyzed to build up a map of white matter. In dense reconstruction, all tracts are traced in a single brain. What are the relative merits of these approaches? Structural vs. "functional" connectivity Many researchers refer to spatial correlations in fMRI activation as "functional connectivity." How are such activity correlations related to genuine structural measurements of connectivity? Cortical parcellation The cerebral cortex is currently divided into areas based on multiple structural and functional criteria. Could improved information about connectivity eventually make it the only criterion for parcellation? Connectopathies How can we identify abnormal connectivity using both in vivo and postmortem studies, and relate it to pathological genes and behavior? Beyond diagram making White matter connectivity played a central role in the 19th century neurologists' approach to brain function, but they were later derided as mere "diagram makers." How much impact will improved knowledge of white matter connectivity have on our understanding of brain function?