In comparison with complete reference genomes now available for multiple species, our knowledge about the neuronal and circuit architecture of the vertebrate nervous systems is relatively sparse. However, this situation is rapidly changing, enabled by technical advances as well as resurgent and widespread interest in the neuroscientific community in mapping out neural circuitry at unprecedented scales, ranging from the reconstruction of local micro-circuits to the mapping of brain-wide meso-circuits. This circuit architecture naturally and logically complements the molecular architecture as delineated by the mapping of brain-wide gene expression patterns. Experimental efforts are under way in multiple species, promising to advance our knowledge of the wiring logic of the vertebrate brain. This will fundamentally impact our understanding of brain function and evolution, and also play an essential role in understanding pathological changes in circuitry that underlie neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders.
This two week workshop will bring together classical neuroanatomical approaches along with the new techniques that are enabling a new generation of neuroanatomical research into the circuit and molecular architecture of the vertebrate brain. The workshop will have three main components: classical, molecular and computational neuroanatomy. An experimental component of the workshop will involve injection based tract tracing in the mouse, employing classical and viral tracer substances, in wild type and transgenic mice. Lectures will cover classical (tracer injections, sectioning, histochemistry, imaging) and molecular (genetic engineering of mice as well as viral tracers, optogenetic probing of circuits) techniques. Material will be presented by simultaneous viewing of slides under light microscopy as well as digital images, including an in-depth orientation to internet resources. The computational component will involve hands on algorithmic analysis and interpretation of digital neuroanatomical data sets, from both EM and light microscopy. Species covered will include rodents, human and nonhuman primates, with special lectures on other vertebrate lineages.