Design of the First Neuronal Connectomics Challenge: From Imaging to Connectivity

Isabelle Guyon, Demian Battaglia, Alice Guyon, Vincent Lemaire, Javier G. Orlandi, Bisakha Ray, Mehreen Saeed, Jordi Soriano, Alexander Statnikov and Olav Stetter

IEEE WCCI (2014)

We are organizing a challenge to reverse engineer the structure of neuronal networks from patterns of activity recorded with calcium fluorescence imaging. Unraveling the brain structure at the neuronal level at a large scale is an important step in brain science, with many ramifications in the comprehension of animal and human intelligence and learning capabilities, as well as understanding and curing neuronal diseases and injuries. However, uncovering the anatomy of the brain by disentangling the neural wiring with its very fine and intertwined dendrites and axons, making both local and far reaching synapses, is a very arduous task: traditional methods of axonal tracing are tedious, difficult, and time consuming. This challenge proposes to approach the problem from a different angle, by reconstructing the effective connectivity of a neuronal network from observations of neuronal activity of thousands of neurons, which can be obtained with state-of-the-art fluores- cence calcium imaging. To evaluate the effectiveness of proposed algorithms, we will use data obtained with a realistic simulator of real neurons for which we have ground truth of the neuronal connections. We produced simulated calcium imaging data, taking into account a model of fluorescence and light scattering. The task of the participants is to reconstruct a network of 1000 neurons from time series of neuronal activities obtained with this model. This challenge is part of the official selection of the WCCI 2014 competition program.