How can we understand the function of gigantic complex networks (e.g. the brain) based on connectivity data alone? We use the available full connectome of a nematode and apply new approaches to find that the neural network is made of structurally homogeneous neural circuits. These sets of neurons also appear in defined regions of the network where they may provide valuable functional roles such as signal integration and synchronization. Moreover, if we redraw the network considering these homogeneous sets alone, we reveal a simplified network layout that is intuitive to understand. As connectome data of higher brain systems are soon to be released our novel approaches can be immediately applied to studying these complex systems.
Azulay A, Itskovits E, Zaslaver A (2016) The C. elegans Connectome Consists of Homogenous Circuits with Defined Functional Roles. PLoS Comput Biol 12(9): e1005021. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005021