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A null model of the mouse whole-neocortex micro-connectome

By Michael W Reimann, Michael Gevaert, Ying Shi, Huanxiang Lu, Henry Markram, Eilif Muller

Posted 13 Feb 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/548735 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-11630-x)

Connectomics, the study of the structure of networks of synaptically connected neurons, is one of the most important frontiers of neuroscience. Great advances are being made on the level of macro- and meso-scale connectomics, that is the study of how and which populations of neurons are wired together by tracing axons of anatomically and genetically defined neurons throughout the brain. Similarly, the use of electron-microscopy and statistical connectome models has improved our understanding of micro-connectomics, that is the study of connectivity patterns between individual neurons. We have combined these two complementary views of connectomics to build a first draft statistical model of the neuron-to-neuron micro-connectome of a whole mouse neocortex. We combined available data on region-to-region connectivity and individual whole-brain axon reconstructions to model in addition to the meso-scale trends also the innervation of individual neurons by individual axons, within and across regions. This process revealed a novel targeting principle that allowed us to predict the innervation logic of individual axons from meso-scale data. The resulting micro-connectome of 10 million neurons and 88 billion synapses recreates biological trends of targeting on the macro-, meso- and micro-scale, i.e. targeting of brain regions, domains and layers within a brain region down to individual neurons. This openly accessible connectome can serve as a powerful null model to compare experimental findings to and as a substrate for whole-brain simulations of detailed neural networks.

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