Reconstructing the brain: from image stacks to neuron synthesis
Large-scale brain initiatives such as the US BRAIN initiative and the European Human Brain Project aim to marshall a vast amount of data and tools for the purpose of furthering our understanding of brains. Fundamental to this goal is that neuronal morphologies must be seamlessly reconstructed and aggregated on scales up to the whole rodent brain. The experimental labor needed to manually produce this number of digital morphologies is prohibitively large. The BigNeuron initiative is assembling community-generated, open-source, automated reconstruction algorithms into an open platform, and is beginning to generate an increasing flow of high quality reconstructed neurons. We propose a novel extension of this workflow to use this data stream to generate an unlimited number of statistically equivalent, yet distinct, digital morphologies. This will bring automated processing of reconstructed cells into digital neurons to the wider neuroscience community, and enable a range of morphologically- accurate computational models.