ABSTRACT: DECODING THE ORGANIZATION OF THE HUMAN BRAIN ACROSS THE SCALES

We would like to present the abstract of our keynote speaker – Svenja Caspers – who is Associate Professor for Human Brain Connectivity in the C. and O. Vogt Institute for Brain Research of the Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf (Germany) and Group Leader as well as Deputy Director in the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM-1) of the Research Centre Jülich (Germany).

The human brain enables such diverse abilities such as language, action control, decision making, attention, memory or emotions and personality, some of which are thought to be uniquely human. Understanding the organization of the human brain on multiple levels, from single neurons and their axons to whole brain networks and large fiber bundles is one of the current challenges and fascinating endeavors of the 21st century. Integrative and encompassing knowledge of the healthy human brain and its normal variability is a crucial prerequisite for finally disentangling pathological alterations due to neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases, major burdens in modern society. Modern systems neuroscience provides novel insights into human brain organization across the scales, local cellular and fiber architecture to large-scale cognitive networks. While microscopic techniques on postmortem brain tissue enable high-resolution views on local architecture of neurons, neurotransmitter receptors and fibers, state-of-the-art magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques allow for investigation of fiber bundles, cognitive networks during task performance as well as in the resting state and gross brain structure. Integrating these different scales is of utmost importance for an integrated understanding of the human brain and one of the aims of the EU-FET Flagship “Human Brain Project” (HBP).