Speaker: Thomas Reith ’15
Exploring Topological Properties of the C. Elegans Connectome
The connectome is a comprehensive mapping of the neurons and synapses in the brain. Because the connectivity of a neural circuit determines its function, a thorough knowledge of synaptic structure is vital to understanding the brain’s inner workings. We utilize the mathematical methods of graph theory to analyze the connectome of the nematode C. elegans, the only organism for which the connectome is fully characterized.
Published data include connectivity, or adjacency, matrices for the synaptic connections of both male and hermaphroditic sexes of C. elegans. Neurons in these matrices are ordered by type (sensory, inter, and motor) and function, so the structure of the brain is revealed by patterns in the matrices. We calculate degree distributions of the C. elegans connectome and identify prominent network motifs, which are recurrent, statistically significant subgraphs. The ultimate goal of our project is to use connectivity data to restore the “functional” order from a random order, thereby identifying neuron type and function.
The talk will be from 4:30-5:30 in Chambers 3155.
Yerger, Carl R