Why study neural connectivity?
One of the early lessons many of us learned in biology is that the body’s architecture and plumbing are important. We started with learning the head is connected to the neck. Shortly after, we learned about organs and the jobs they perform. This became foundational later on when we studied biological processes, like how our stem cells are housed in specific locations and give rise to progenitors during growth and development or that blood flows through the heart and lungs and oxygenates the body. However, in neuroscience, this architecture is frequently still an open question. The connections between neurons are what define how the brain operates, and thus, are a major part of the answer to many biological questions about the brain. To address this, molecular tools to map neuronal connectivity are widely used in neuroscience. In this post, I’ll describe how rabies virus (RABV) can be used in the brain to visualize how neurons are connected.