A recent article in the Wall Street Journal provides an overview of the emerging field of human connectomics. It highlights the efforts by the two consortia of the Human Connectome Project to advance our understanding of brain connectivity. This includes major advances in MRI technology that greatly improve the quality of structural and functional connectivity data that can now be acquired.
The article describes the plan to map variations between individuals and link them to behaviors to better understand what makes each person unique. “In essence, we will match form and function,” said project principal investigator David Van Essen at Washington University in St. Louis.
The article also profiles the benefits and increasing impact of data sharing in neuroscience. Examples include the Allen Brain Institute’s Human Brain Atlas, which provides interactive access to human gene expression patterns, and Michael Milham’s catalytic efforts to promote sharing of resting-state fMRI data at the Child Mind Institute. Data from the Human Connectome Project will be freely shared and will add greatly to the amount and diversity of neuroimaging data available for data mining and discovery science.