Digital reconstructions of neuronal morphology: three decades of research trends

Front Neurosci. 2012 Apr 23;6:49. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2012.00049. eCollection 2012.


The importance of neuronal morphology has been recognized from the early days of neuroscience. Elucidating the functional roles of axonal and dendritic arbors in synaptic integration, signal transmission, network connectivity, and circuit dynamics requires quantitative analyses of digital three-dimensional reconstructions. We extensively searched the scientific literature for all original reports describing reconstructions of neuronal morphology since the advent of this technique three decades ago. From almost 50,000 titles, 30,000 abstracts, and more than 10,000 full-text articles, we identified 902 publications describing ∼44,000 digital reconstructions. Reviewing the growth of this field exposed general research trends on specific animal species, brain regions, neuron types, and experimental approaches. The entire bibliography, annotated with relevant metadata and (wherever available) direct links to the underlying digital data, is accessible at NeuroMorpho.Org.

Keywords: NeuroMorpho.Org; data mining; data sharing; digital reconstruction; literature mining; neuron morphology; potential connectivity; three-dimensional reconstruction.