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Human Connectome Project

Human Connectome Project

The Human Connectome Project (HCP) is a data sharing initiative to address fundamental questions about human anatomy and variation related to neuron connectivity. The HCP consortium is based at Washington University and includes collaborations between University of Southern California, Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital.

The connectome is a map of neural connections, which make up white matter in the brain and are likened to a wiring diagram. The HCP project aims to develop tools to process high-angular diffusion (HARDI) and diffusion spectrum imaging (DSI) from normal individuals, optimize high-field imaging technologies and neurocognitive tests, and use a representative sample of normal subjects to collect connectomic, behavioral, and genotype data. The HCP plans to design and use web-based informatics and desseminate data acquisition and analysis as well as educational and training outreach materials.

The Developing Human Connectome Project (dHCP)

dHCP is a collaboration between King’s College London, Imperial College London and University of Oxford where the release of large-scale data aims to uncover how wiring and function of the brain develops during pregnancy and after birth and how it goes wrong in disease. The lead principle investigator is Professor David Edwards. As of 2019 the project has published MR brain scans of over 500 newborn babies which can be downloaded and used in studies of how the brain develops. Researchers share their images and methods online so that other scientists can use their data in their own research. The images are from babies born and imaged between 24-45 weeks of pregnancy at the Evelina Newborn Imaging Centre at the Centre for the Developing Brain, King’s College London.

Research Studies

The HCP collected scanned the brains of more than 1200 young men and women, mostly in their 20s, in the United States with a specialized M.R.I that assesses the health of the white matter of the brain. White matter is comprised of the connections between neurons and brain regions, whereas the grey matter is mostly the cell bodies of the neurons and non-neuron cells called glial cells. The participants also completed questionnaires about their health and lives, an aerobic fitness walking test and cognitive tests. The data was analysed by German researchers lead by Jonathan Repple who published in Scientific Reports in 2019, correlations between white matter health and fitness in young people.

University of Utah researchers, led by Jeffrey Anderson, used HCP data and found correlations between aggressive behavior and overconnectivity between two brain networks. Brain connectivity was recorded with two magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods, resting-state MRI and diffusion MRI, and results were published in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging in 2019.


Further Resources


Connectome imaging for mapping human brain pathways

Y. Shi, A.W. Toga

The Human Connectome Project’s Neuroimaging Approach

Matthew F. Glasser, Stephen M. Smith, Daniel S. Marcus, Jesper Andersson, Edward J. Auerbach, Timothy E. J. Behrens, Timothy S. Coalson, Michael P. Harms, Mark Jenkinson, Steen Moeller, Emma C. Robinson, Stamatios N. Sotiropoulos, Junqian Xu, Essa Yacoub, Kamil Ugurbil, and David C. Van Essen

The Human Connectome: A Structural Description of the Human Brain

Olaf Sporns, Giulio Tononi, Rolf Kötter



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