Connectomics: Comprehensive approaches for whole-brain mapping

Shinsuke Shibata, Yuji Komaki, Fumiko Seki, Michiko O. Inouye, Toshihiro Nagai, Hideyuki Okano

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of connectomics analysis is to understand whole-brain neural connections. This is accomplished using new biotechnologies. Here, we provide an overview of the recent progress in connectomics analysis. The entire neural network of an organism was revealed for the first time in the nematode. Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) have an advantage of their limited number of neurons and their transparency, allowing the neural network to be visualized using light and electron microscopes (EMs). It is practically impossible to adopt the same approach for mammals because of the large number of neural cells and the opacity of the central nervous system. A variety of new technologies are being developed to perform computer-assisted high-throughput image acquisition and analysis to obtain whole-brain maps for higher species, including mammals. Diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging and tractography and three-dimensional imaging with the EM are examples of novel approaches to connectomics. These new technologies will soon be applied not only to Drosophila, C. elegans and rodent research, but also to comprehensive connectomics analysis in a wide range of species including humans and primates. In the near future, results from connectomics analysis will reveal the neural circuitry of the whole brain and enhance our understanding of the human mind and neuropsychiatric diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-67
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Feb


  • Brain mapping
  • Connectome
  • Connectomics
  • Electron microscope
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Serial EM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Instrumentation
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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