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The main activities of the NeSys laboratory are:

1. Neuroscience databases and atlasing systems. We develop database applications for image data, from microscopy level to in vivo imaging data. We now host a rat and mouse brain work bench, providing access to repositories and databases for circuit level as well as molecular distribution data. We coordinate a new database initiative at the Centre for Molecular Biology and Neuroscience, aiming at developing large scale image data storage capacities coupled to online brain atlasing systems.

2. Localization in the brain. We develop and use technologies for efficiently assigning localization to neuroscience data. Improved anatomical data acquisition, computerized 3-D reconstruction, and digital atlasing, are methods that are developed and refined by the laboratory. These methods are used in most of our publications.

3. Brain map transformations. Our research includes studies of brain map transformations, presented in digital atlases and databases. We have studied the cerebro-ponto-cerebellar system over more than two decades, in cat, monkey, and recently rat. This is one of the largest macrocircuits in the brain with an apparently complex architecture. Our research aims at elucidating the design principles of this major system. We currently study changes in the architecture of this and other major circuits in the brain following external and genetic manipulations. We have also studied ascending auditory systems in detail in multiple articles.

4. High resolution MRI and microPET. In project collaborations, we employ tomographical techniques for accumulating, retrieving, and viewing different data modalities within a common digital atlas framework.

Recent achievements in the lab include:
  • Development of a novel digital atlas system utilizing for evaluation of cellular distribution patterns in large series of high-resolution mosaic images of histological sections (Boy et al., 2006).
  • Mapping of topographical organization in cerebro-cerebellar pathways from somatosensory cortex through the pontine nuclei to different locations in the cerebellum (Odeh et al., 2005; Leergaard et al., 2006).
  • Evaluation of in vivo tracing of neural pathways using manganese enhanced MRI (Leergaard et al., 2003)
  • Establishment and use of local coordinate systems, in combination with 3-D reconstruction, for advanced distribution analyses (reviewed in Bjaalie, 2002).
  • Improvements of software for 3-D reconstruction, visualization, and analysis of neuronal distribution and brain regional organization, used in more than 20 publications the last 5 years, and installed in laboratories in the United States and Japan.
  • Establishment of the first database on Functional Anatomy of the Cerebro-Cerebellar System in rat (Bjaalie et al., 2005)..
The group is a partner in a Centre of Excellence on Molecular Biology and Neuroscience, has coordinated a national Technology Transfer Project from The Norwegian Consortium for High Performance Computing, and has contributed as a partner and coordinator in projects funded by the European Commission.

Downloads of some of our publications are available.
Map transformations in the rat somatosensory system. Left panel: Tactile information from the body surface is represented in a somatotopic map in the primary somatosensory cortex . Middle: This essentially 2-D cortical map is transformed into a more complex 3-D map in the pontine nuclei, in which somatotopic relations are largely preserved among axonal terminal fields. Right: In the granule cell layer of the cerebellar hemispheres, tactile representations are organized in a more complex and disrupted map, referred to as a fractured map, as here shown in folium crus IIa and the paramedian lobule. Body parts are color coded (red, upper lip; purple, whisker; green, trunk; yellow, forelimb; green, hindlimb). For details, see Bjaalie and Leergaard (2005) and Leergaard et al. (2006).

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