Interactive Visualizations

Note: Firefox must be used to properly view these interactive visualizations. Other browsers may work but to an extremely limited extent.

Also note: These interactive animations work best with a mouse or trackpad. Manipulation is limited on mobile devices.

Kickstarter Backer Connectome “Constellation”

Our place in space…
…your name in the brain

To acknowledge the Kickstarter Backers who have made this project possible, we have created a connectome “constellation” for our angel investors.  Without each of our stars, this project wouldn’t have been possible.

What’s a connectome?

Imagine a daily commute to work. One might wake up, shower, dress, eat, walk to the subway station, pay to enter the subway, ride the train to a particular destination, disembark, walk toward work, stop at cross streets, walk again, and eventually reach a final destination. You could represent this daily routine through this series of complex steps, or you could display a subway map and point to the subway line you take to work.

A connectome functions in much the same way. Ideally, we would map the connections between all 1010 neurons and 1014 synaptic connections between them. This is a microscale representation, similar to writing out every step you take when commuting to work. In other cases, we trace the connections between functional areas of the brain. This is amacroscale representation, much like pointing to a map of this same commute.

We can display these larger-scale functional connections in a diagram like the one above. Each point, here represented by a name, could be an entire area of the brain or something much smaller. The lines between them represent functional connections, and it is this set of connections that give scientists insight into how the brain might work.

While a full connectome lies in the distant future, connectomics through technologies like MRI tractography, tissue dissection, and more are bringing us closer. The next time you wake up, groggy, preparing for a long commute to work, remember that your brain is nothing but a series of commutes.