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Hardcover | $37.00 Short | £25.95 | ISBN: 9780262017909 | 248 pp. | 7 x 9 in | 55 b&w illus., 2 tables, 17 color plates| August 2012
Ebook | $26.00 Short | ISBN: 9780262306645 | 248 pp. | 7 x 9 in | 55 b&w illus., 2 tables, 17 color plates| September 2012
About MIT Press Ebooks

Discovering the Human Connectome


Crucial to understanding how the brain works is connectivity, and the centerpiece of brain connectivity is the connectome, a comprehensive description of how neurons and brain regions are connected. The human brain is a network of extraordinary complexity—a network not by way of metaphor, but in a precise and mathematical sense: an intricate web of billions of neurons connected by trillions of synapses. How this network is connected is important for virtually all facets of the brain’s integrative function. In this book, Olaf Sporns surveys current efforts to chart these connections—to map the human connectome.

Sporns, a pioneer in the field who was the first to define and use the term "connectome," argues that the nascent field of connectomics has already begun to influence the way many neuroscientists collect, analyze, and think about their data. Moreover, the idea of mapping the connections of the human brain in their entirety has captured the imaginations of researchers across several disciplines including human cognition, brain and mental disorders, and complex systems and networks. Sporns describes the biological and conceptual foundations of the connectome; the many research challenges it faces; the many cutting-edge empirical strategies, from electron microscopy to magnetic resonance imaging, deployed to map brain connectivity; the relationship between structure and function; and the wide array of network computational approaches to connectomics. Discovering the Human Connectome offers the first comprehensive overview of current empirical and computational approaches in this rapidly developing field.

About the Author

Olaf Sporns is Provost Professor and Head of the Computational Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University. He is the author of Networks of the Brain (MIT Press, 2010).


"Olaf Sporns, in his book Discovering the Human Connectome, provides an excellent and concise primer of this monumental neuroscience endeavor."—Robert Perna and Ashlee Loughan, PsycCritiques

"Anybody curious about the cutting edge of cognitive science will enjoy Sporn's book. Discovering the Human Connectome is clear, wide-ranging, intellectually serious, and often thought-provoking. It introduces readers to aspects of the brain and cognition that are either newly important, or whose importance has only recently become clear"—Matteo Colombo, Minds and Machines


"This is a wonderful book on a timely and important issue. Olaf Sporns takes us on an insightful, yet quite readable, journey on the promises and challenges offered by seeing the human brain through the lens of its own connectional architecture. He convincingly argues that understanding the structural and functional organization of brain connections, a.k.a the human connectome, while not enough to uncover how we feel, think, and move, is a first fundamental step in that direction. This book should be of great interest to researchers and clinicians interested in the basic organization of the healthy brain as well as the pathogenesis of brain disorders."—Maurizio Corbetta, Washington University School of Medicine

"As the sophistication of structural and functional human brain imaging continues to progress, the field is growing increasingly interested in how brain networks function. The science of connectomics, of which Olaf Sporns has been an early pioneer, is one of the answers to this problem. This book tells its tale, illustrates it with many examples, and conveys the details of what is involved in an exhaustive manner to those interested in what has been discovered, and how. Thoroughly recommended to all who want to study connectomics and also those seeking to understand how human brain imaging with MRI has become the cience of in vivo functional and structural neuroanatomy at the mesoscopic spatial level of description."—Richard Frackowiak, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Université de Lausanne (UNIL)


Honorable Mention, 2012 American Publishers Award for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE Award) in Biomedicine and Neuroscience, presented by the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers