The emerging field of connectomics (Sporns et al, PLoS Comput Biol 2005) proposes to systematically describe the connexion network of the human brain. This transdisciplinary field can be tackled at different scales : nanoscopic (molecular biology), microscopic (neural cells), mesoscopic (neural populations), and macroscopic (anatomy). Our team focuses specifically on the scale of medical imaging, with typical voxels of a few cubic millimeters. The main connection objects at this scale are white matter fascicles, i.e., large packets of neural fibers providing long-range connections between brain regions. These fascicles can be detected clinically, by performing tractography on diffusion tensor MRI brain imaging.
In this context, the goal of this research axis is to unveil the connectomes for specific brain functions, i.e., the binding of active brain regions (detected with functional MRI) through white-matter fascicles (detected with tractography) in the context of a particular brain (dys)function (detected with clinical semiology and neuropsychologic testing). Our work so far has focussed on the connectomes for language, consciousness, and non-visual pathways of vision. For a detailed description of some research topics, see the box on the right.