Molecular genetics and imaging technologies for circuit-based neuroanatomy

Nature. 2009 Oct 15;461(7266):900-7. doi: 10.1038/nature08536.


Brain function emerges from the morphologies, spatial organization and patterns of connectivity established between diverse sets of neurons. Historically, the notion that neuronal structure predicts function stemmed from classic histological staining and neuronal tracing methods. Recent advances in molecular genetics and imaging technologies have begun to reveal previously unattainable details about patterns of functional circuit connectivity and the subcellular organization of synapses in the living brain. This sophisticated molecular and genetic 'toolbox', coupled with new methods in optical and electron microscopy, provides an expanding array of techniques for probing neural anatomy and function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / ultrastructure
  • Molecular Biology / methods*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / ultrastructure
  • Neuroanatomy / methods*
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Synapses / ultrastructure