The Human Connectome Project’s goal is to map the large-scale connections of 1,200 healthy adult human brains, using cutting-edge and noninvasive techniques through neuroimaging. They hope this research will lead to invaluable information about brain connectivity, how it relates to human behavior, and how genetic and environmental factors lead to individual differences in brain circuitry.

One of the greatest challenges in science is trying to understand how the human brain functions. Since the 19th century people have speculated that the essence of human identity is stored in the connections between our neurons. Today we have the technology to find out if this is true.

The Human Connectome Project (HCP) represents a concerted effort to understand a key element in this process – the neural pathways that are behind all brain functions.  Being able to decipher the complex tangles of wiring that make up the neural system will tell much about what makes human unique from other mammals, and from one another.

The project will begin reporting their discoveries this year, with results being made freely available to the scientific community via the ConnectomeDB database and the Connectome Workbench visualization platform. This will include unprecedented ‘fly-through’ capabilities for navigating brain pathways and identifying neural circuits associated with different behavioral capacities.

Successful charting of the human connectome can pave the way for studies that reveal how brain circuitry changes during development and aging, and how it differs in many ways when it comes to neurological and psychiatric disorders. In effect, it will change our understanding of the human brain health and disease.

Neuroscientists at the Brain Mapping Center in Los Angeles, with the help of researchers from Harvard University who have been pioneering techniques in brain imaging,  are trying to find ways to navigate the brain in ways that have never been attempted before, by soaring through major brain pathways, zoom into a region that explores the cells that makes up the pathways, and understanding the functions that depend upon each of these connections.

“The focus of these talks is on advancing the use of brain mapping methods in neuroscience with an emphasis on contemporary issues of neuroplasticity, neurodevelopment, and biomarker development in neuropsychiatric disease,” says Jeff Lichtman of the Harvard team.

The Human Connectome Project want to be able to provide mass neural data that is unparalleled, and graphically navigate this data in order to find out conclusively how the human brain actually works



About the author:

Ron White is a two-time U.S.A. Memory Champion



New Scientists- Smart Guide to 2012: Mapping the Human Brain:

The Anatomy of the Brain:

Discrete Neuroanatomical Networks Are Associated with Specific Cognitive Abilities in Old Age : The Journal of Neuroscience, 26 January 2011, 31(4):12041212; doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4085-10.2011


The Human Connectome Project –

The Human Connectome Project –