Organisational Principles of Connectomes: Changes During Evolution and Development

  • Roman Bauer
  • Marcus Kaiser
Part of the Diversity and Commonality in Animals book series (DCA)


The set of neural connections in an organism is now called the connectome. Using recent noninvasive techniques such as diffusion tensor imaging and traditional invasive techniques for tract tracing has uncovered a wide range of connectomes from Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster to cat, mouse, rat, macaque, and human. We can therefore start to look at organisational changes during evolution. At the same time cell lineage information and measurements at different time steps allow us to observe network changes during individual, ontogenetic development. We find that the structure of a network is closely linked to its function, with distinct functional components first leading to network modules and, after the rise of further specialisation, to a hierarchical architecture with modules at different levels of network organisation. We first describe concepts that are used to characterize complex networks, then move on to briefly discuss computational models for development and evolution, before showing how network features change during the evolution and development of brain networks. We conclude with future challenges in the field of connectome development and evolution.


Complex networks Connectome Neuronal network Network structure Topology Modelling Development Evolution 



This work was supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council of the United Kingdom (EP/K026992/1) as part of the Human Brain Development Project ( R.B. was also supported by the Medical Research Council of the United Kingdom (MR/N015037/1).


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Interdisciplinary Computing and Complex BioSystems (ICOS) Research Group, School of Computing ScienceNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK
  2. 2.Institute of NeuroscienceNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK

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