Connectomics in mouse retina and cerebral cortex


September 23, 2014 - 1:00pm
NW 243
About the Speaker
Moritz Helmstaedter (Max Planck Institute)

The mapping of neuronal connectivity is one of the main challenges in neuroscience. Only with the knowledge of wiring diagrams is it possible to understand the computational capacities of neuronal networks, both in the sensory periphery, and especially in the mammalian cerebral cortex. Our methods for dense circuit mapping are based on 3-dimensional electron microscopy (EM) imaging of tissue, which allows imaging nerve tissue at nanometer-scale resolution across substantial volumes (typically hundreds of micrometers per spatial dimension) using Serial Block-Face Scanning Electron Microscopy (SBEM). The most time-consuming aspect of circuit mapping, however, is image analysis; analysis time far exceeds the time needed to acquire the data. Therefore, we developed methods to make circuit reconstruction feasible by increasing analysis speed and accuracy, using a combination of crowd sourcing and machine learning. We have applied these methods to circuits in the mouse retina, mapping the complete connectivity graph between almost a thousand neurons, and to neuronal circuits in the neocortex using automated image analysis, together with online crowd sourcing and mobile science games.