Ever wondered why small babies have more connections to and from their nerve cells than adults? Well, you’re not alone, this question and others pertaining to development and understanding of schizophrenia and autism and other phenomena is the study field of Connectomics, championed by Dr Jeff Lichtman, among others. He believes that a lot of answers lie in the forming and development of the brain’s connections, something he has illustrated by ‘colouring’ different cells in different hues so as to delve deepier into the secret maze of the brain. Sounds like a ball.
Lichtman would like to see a parallel Human Connectome Project alongside the Human Genome Project, and I am surely looking forward to that. Just want to remind readers of the magnitude of this endeavor, Winfried Denk of the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg, Germany, has estimates that it would take a slave graduate student about 130 000 years to reconstruct the circuitry of just a 2 mm so called cortical column in the cerebral cortex. Wowawiwa!