Database and tools for analysis of topographic organization and map transformations in major projection systems of the brain

Neuroscience. 2005;136(3):681-95. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2005.06.036.


Integration of dispersed and complicated information collected from the brain is needed to build new knowledge. But integration may be hampered by rigid presentation formats, diversity of data formats among laboratories, and lack of access to lower level data. We have addressed some of the fundamental issues related to this challenge at the level of anatomical data, by producing a coordinate based digital atlas and database application for a major projection system in the rat brain: the cerebro-ponto-cerebellar system. This application, Functional Anatomy of the Cerebro-Cerebellar System in rat (FACCS), is available via the Rodent Brain WorkBench ( The data included are x,y,z-coordinate lists describing exact distributions of tissue elements (axonal terminal fields of axons, or cell bodies) that are labeled with axonal tracing techniques. All data are translated to a common local coordinate system to facilitate across animal comparison. A search capability allows queries based on, e.g. location of tracer injection sites, tracer category, size of the injection sites, and contributing author. A graphic search tool allows the user to move a volume cursor inside a coordinate system to detect particular injection sites having connections to a specific tissue volume at chosen density levels. Tools for visualization and analysis of selected data are included, as well as an option to download individual data sets for further analysis. With this application, data and metadata from different experiments are mapped into the same information structure and made available for re-use and re-analysis in novel combinations. The application is prepared for future handling of data from other projection systems as well as other data categories.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anatomy, Artistic / methods
  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Databases as Topic*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Information Systems*
  • Medical Illustration
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology*
  • Rats