Human Connectome: Our Brain’s Atlas

If you thought the human genome project was impressive its scope and scale. think about the human connectome project.

I recently shared with you the fruit fly brain atlas, comprised of about 100,000 neurons, and compared it to the human brain with some 100 billion neurons.

The first high resolution images of the “connectedness” of the human brain are beginning to emerge:


According to the NIH-funded human connectome project, to be described in tomorrow’s Science Times of The New York Times:
{My edits:}

Mapping of the human connectome offers a unique opportunity to understand the complete details of neural connectivity. The Human Connectome Project (HCP) is a project to construct a map of the complete structural and functional neural connections in vivo and in various individuals. The HCP represents the first large-scale attempt to collect and share data of a scope and detail sufficient to begin the process of addressing deeply fundamental questions about human connectional anatomy and variation. A collaboration between MGH and UCLA, the HCP is being developed to employ advanced neuroimaging methods, and to construct an extensive informatics infrastructure to link these data and connectivity models. Working closely with other HCP partners based at Washington University in St. Louis we will provide rich data, essential imaging protocols, and sophisticated connectivity analysis tools for the neuroscience community.

This is an amazing example of collaboration across disciplines of medicine, genetics, neuroscience, computer science and imaging technologies.

So far, their conclusions:

Through this comprehensive white matter mapping project we will provide the neuroscience research community with a novel resource for connectomics that will have a significant impact for our enhancing our understanding of the rich neuroanatomical connectedness of the human brain.

I predict that years from now, we will look upon these beautiful images with a level of understanding that we can only imagine now. Who knows? Such meta-cognition might even guide us towards more profound discoveries.


  1. #1 Azacia of Chaos
    December 28, 2010

    That is incredibly beautiful.
    The implications for both research and medical treatment are astounding and I personally can’t wait to see where this goes. The possibilities are quite vast. I’m young enough at this point, I’ll get to watch it’s progression. Very exciting :)

  2. #2 yogi-one
    January 1, 2011

    It’s very interesting. Maybe someday we’ll be able to isolate particular electrical flows related to single perceptions in the brain.

    I find it interesting that on some cases, a different part of the brain can take over tasks from another part of the brain, but in some cases it cannot. It would be very interesting to know which kinds of information were transferable around the brain, which kinds are not, and why.

    Also, apparently the human brain is getting smaller and it would be interesting to see if this is a product of neural networks becoming more efficient over many generations, or some other evolutionary driving force is present (perhaps smaller heads are easier for the birth canal?)

    And thousands of other questions that could be pursued with this neural mapping technology…

  3. #3 ocala lawyer
    January 1, 2011

    I can’t even begin to understand the complexity of what you are trying to accomplish. There is beautiful symmetry in the images no doubt a reflection of the function of the human brain

  4. #4 Unruly Gang
    January 4, 2011

    The implications of these findings are immensely exciting to researchers who are trying to track the neuro-psycho-biological underpinnings of Developmental Trauma Disorder, not only in children and youth, but in adult survivors of severe, chronic, and persistently traumatic attachment relationships from infancy throughout the life span. Of special significance is the progress in determining physiological pathways that contribute to the condition’s impact on Executive Functioning.