Brain Neurons and their relation to the functionality of Networks

This summer I will be working with a small group of people which include another undergraduate student Perry, two graduate students Dan and Yoonsuck, along with our mentor Ricardo. The project has about a four year span. As of now the preliminary research has been done. The main goal is to study the neurons and synapses of a mouse brain with the hopes of finding common functions within them and using that information to draw conclusions about networks. This summer we are starting out working with a C. Elegans brain, which is a very small worm that has a simple brain with a mere 300 neurons and 4000 synapses. For the first part of the summer we are going to be working with the C. Elegans brain. While our small group is studing the C. Elegans brain other graduate students who are working on the same project will be using a knfe edge scanning microsope that was developed by Dr. Brian McCormick. This microscope can scan an entire mouse brain in less than four hours. Once all of the data is gathered, the information my group is gathering will be applied to the mouse brain. The preliminary work that has been completed includes the construction of an html based web of the C. Elegans, as well as a complete catalog of every neuron in the C. Elegan's brain. We will be using a program called MFinder that has the capability of finding motifs within a network. A motif in a network is a path that is found between the neurons that occurs a given number of times. With this program we will be trying to build a random network that has the same motifs as the C. Elegans brain.

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