Roots and Routes

By GUEST BLOGGER Ethan Lerner, MD, PhD of Massachusetts General Hospital

 

A 10-year billion-dollar plan is afoot to map all of the connections in the brain. The plan is called the BRAIN initiative, or Connectome. Pretty pictures have already been posted. Really. And really pretty. Perhaps we should concurrently tackle the “Peripherome” – the neural routes from the skin to the dorsal root ganglia and on to the spinal cord. The Peripherome should be sensational to cutaneous biology as it informs us about all sorts of sensations: Itch, touch, pressure, heat, cold, pain, and, with a bit of luck, pleasure. We might even learn a thing or two about hair and sweat, as follicles and glands are highly innervated.

 

Readers may be interested in the recent Science article by Mishra and Hoon (The Cells and Circuitry for Itch Responses in Mice).

 

Image courtesy of the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at UCLA and Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at MGH, Consortium of the Human Connectome Project – www.humanconnectomeproject.org.  (White matter fiber architecture of the brain. Measured from diffusion spectral imaging (DSI). The fibers are color-coded by direction: red = left-right, green = anterior-posterior, blue = through brain stem.)

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