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Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology

Our laboratory develops and uses computerized brain mapping techniques to study the structure, function, and development of cerebral cortex in humans and nonhuman primates. We are heavily engaged in the Human Connectome Project, a 5-year project to map human brain circuitry in healthy adults.

Cortical Cartography

  • (March, 2012) Release of human 'Conte69 atlas' surface-based atlas See Details
  • Caret software for visualizing and analyzing experimental data on surfaces and volumes
  • The SumsDB database of published (freely available) and unpublished (private) neuroimaging data. Read more
  • Webcaret software for online visualization of SumsDB datasets.Read more
  • Atlases of human, macaque, mouse, and rat that facilitate cross-study comparisons and data mining
  • Neuroimaging foci. Published stereotaxic coordinates (‘foci’) are especially amenable to data mining. SumsDB currently provides free access to ~25,000 foci from ~800 studies along with tutorials. see also
  • PALS Atlas Data Set Download. The new Conte69 atlas can be viewed on the PALS surface mesh as well as the Freesurfer '164k_fs_LR' mesh

Ongoing Research Projects

The Human Connectome Project (HCP). The HCP will use structural and functional imaging methods to characterize brain circuitry in 1,200 healthy adult humans (twins and their non-twin siblings) and to relate this circuitry to behavioral phenotypes and genetic underpinnings. The WU-Minn HCP consortium involves dozens of investigators from 9 institutions, led by Washington University (Van Essen, PI) and the University of Minnesota (Kamil Ugurbil, PI). The Van Essen lab has a lead role in developing Connectome Workbench, which will provide flexible, user-friendly access to vast amounts of freely available data to be stored in the ConnectomeDB database, and in developing other brain-mapping analysis methods. A beta version of Connectome Workbench has been released and is available at www.humanconnectome.org


Human Cortical Development In collaboration with Terrie Inder, Jeff Neil, Jason Hill, and others, we study human cortical development in premature as well as term-born infants. Our objectives are to better understand normal cortical maturation and to characterize cortical abnormalities that correlate with abnormal childhood development.


Cortical Structure and Function in Disease. We use surface-based approaches to characterize abnormalities in cortical structure and function in a variety of disease conditions, including autism, schizophrenia, and Williams Syndrome.




Interspecies Comparisons. We use interspecies surface-based registration to compare cortical organization in macaques, humans, and great apes (Orban et al., 2004, Van Essen, 2004, and Van Essen and Dierker, 2007).


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