The digital renaissance of human neuroanatomy
We are at the exciting technological stage where it has become feasible to represent the anatomy of an entire human brain at the cellular level. In this presentation, the speaker explains that neuroanatomy in the XXI Century has become an effort towards the virtualization and standardization of brain tissue.
- Talk abstract: The field of neuroscience is once again looking at the brain as matter. This is due largely to the new power and sophistication of available techniques that are applied to modeling neural architecture. We are at the exciting technological stage where it has become feasible to represent the anatomy of an entire human brain at the cellular level; this is exciting because cytological parameters such as axonal architecture, neuronal number, size, and cortical layer organization are still extremely relevant to the clinical neurosciences. This knowledge, if formalized at the system level, can bridge Connectome-era brain maps with classical architectonic and comparative data produced by histological methods and stereology. Currently, the combination of 2-D and 3-D digital imaging approaches and algorithms for the automated analysis of cellular-level features can be used to build brain models with the potential to demonstrate the structural basis behavioral and pathological phenotypes. The challenge is to make sense of the seemingly insurmountable microstructural complexity within white and gray matter and produce templates that can, in spite of individual variability, be generalized for translational applications. In other words, neuroanatomy, in the XXI Century is less concerned with topography and classification; rather, it has become an effort towards the virtualization and standardization of brain tissue.