Part III: Brain Connectomics?
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The human brain is extremely complex with much greater structural and functional diversity than other organs and this complexity is determined both by one’s experiences and one’s genes. In Part 1 of his talk, Lichtman explains how mapping the connections in the brain (the connectome) may lead to a better understanding of brain function. Together with his colleagues, Lichtman has developed tools to label individual cells in the nervous system with different colors producing beautiful and revealing maps of the neuronal connections.
Using transgenic mice with differently colored, fluorescently labeled proteins in each neuron (Brainbow mice), Lichtman and his colleagues were able to follow the formation and destruction of neuromuscular junctions during mouse development. This work is the focus of Part 2.
In Part 3, Lichtman asks whether some day it might be possible to map all of the neural connections in the brain. He describes the technical advances that have allowed him and his colleagues to begin this endeavor as well as the enormous challenges to deciphering the brain connectome.
Jeff Lichtman’s interest in how specific neuronal connections are made and maintained began while he was a MD-PhD student at Washington University in Saint Louis. Lichtman remained at Washington University for nearly 30 years. In 2004, he moved to Harvard University where he is Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and a member of the Center for Brain Science. A major focus of Lichtman’s current research is to decode the map of all the neural connections in the brain. To this end, Lichtman and his colleagues have developed exciting new tools and techniques such as “Brainbow” mice and automated ultra thin tissue slicing machines.
- Adam Cohen: Visualizing Activity in the Brain
- Jeff Lichtman Microscopy Course: Resolution in Microscopy
- Jeff Lichtman Microscopy Course: Diffraction
- Jeff Lichtman Microscopy Course: Point Spread Function
- Jeff Lichtman Microscopy Course: Resolution
- Mu-ming Poo iBioSeminar: Learning and Memory: From Synapse to Perception
- Karel Svoboda iBioSeminar: Optical Studies of Individual Synapses
Why not connectomics?
Morgan JL, Lichtman JW.
Nat Methods. 2013 Jun;10(6):494-500.
Improved tools for the Brainbow toolbox.
Cai D, Cohen KB, Luo T, Lichtman JW, Sanes JR.
Nat Methods. 2013 May 5;10(6):540-7.
PMID:23817127 Free PMC Article
In vivo imaging of the developing neuromuscular junction in neonatal mice.
Turney SG, Walsh MK, Lichtman JW.
Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2012 Nov 1;2012(11):1166-76.
Pervasive synaptic branch removal in the mammalian neuromuscular system at birth.
Tapia JC, Wylie JD, Kasthuri N, Hayworth KJ, Schalek R, Berger DR, Guatimosim C, Seung HS,Lichtman JW.
Neuron. 2012 Jun 7;74(5):816-29. PMID:22681687
The big and the small: challenges of imaging the brain's circuits.
Lichtman JW, Denk W.
Science. 2011 Nov 4;334(6056):618-23. Review.
Seeing circuits assemble.
Lichtman JW, Smith SJ.
Neuron. 2008 Nov 6;60(3):441-8. Review.
PMID:18995818 Free PMC Article
Ome sweet ome: what can the genome tell us about the connectome?
Lichtman JW, Sanes JR.
Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2008 Jun;18(3):346-53. Review.
PMID:18801435 Free PMC Article
Transgenic strategies for combinatorial expression of fluorescent proteins in the nervous system.
Livet J, Weissman TA, Kang H, Draft RW, Lu J, Bennis RA, Sanes JR, Lichtman JW.
Nature. 2007 Nov 1;450(7166):56-62.
The interscutularis muscle connectome.
Lu J, Tapia JC, White OL, Lichtman JW.
PLoS Biol. 2009 Feb 10;7(2)
PMID: 19209956 Free PMC Article