We had an impressive group of speakers and lively discussion at our workshop on “Tools and Approaches for Ground-Truth Neuroscience.” Thank you Viviana Gradinaru, Fei Chen, Paul Tillberg, Albert Lee, Tyler Brown, Jai-Yoon Sul, and Marc Gershow for presenting.
See the workshop program for more details.
There has been much recent excitement about the potential for tools that might enable scalable mapping of brain circuits at the anatomical level (i.e., connectomics), the molecular level (e.g., transcriptomics, proteomics), the activity level (i.e., dynomics), and the behavior level (i.e., high-throughput behavior). However, new fundamental mechanisms of neural function are being discovered all the time, including dendritic computation, glial computation, the glymphatic system, retrograde neurotransmission and many others. This raises a question that sits at the junction between “big neuroscience” projects and discovery-oriented research: how should one design brain mapping technologies that can scalably acquire knowledge about classical mechanisms that we know are important, while taking in stride the continual uncovering of new mechanisms? Some of the principles for designing such technologies include comprehensiveness (for example, the ability to achieve high resolution while spanning large spatial scales) and integrativeness (for example, the ability to combine many different types of measurements on the exact same sample). Novel methods that can begin to address these challenges include technologies for recording from entire intact organisms, molecular multiplexing strategies that allow hundreds of distinct molecular markers to be read out simultaneously via microscopy, versatile approaches to super-resolution microscopy that enable large volumes to be mapped quickly at nanoscopic resolution, new methods of sample preparation that preserve “ground truth” biological structures, and the automation of in-vivo neuroscience to allow quantitative, unbiased observation of the living, behaving brain in action. To better understand the emerging possibilities, this workshop will bring together scientists at the frontiers of discovering new fundamental mechanisms in the brain, and tool developers committed to enabling “ground-truth” approaches to brain mapping. Targeted participants include experimentalists interested in novel tools and computationalists interested in analysis of emerging, comprehensive neural datasets.