Topological Neuron Synthesis

Neurons as fundamental cells of the brain have been studied for more than a century.


Ramon y Cajal discovered the geometric shapes of neurons, which are called neuronal morphologies, in the early 20th century. He hypothesized that these neuronal shapes are essential for the functionality of the brain – a claim that has been extensively verified since by multiple sources.


We now know a lot more about the shapes of neurons in different regions of the brain and their functional roles in brain networks. However many questions remain unsolved about neuronal morphologies, amongst the most essential are ‘how the neuronal morphologies control the functionality of the different brain regions’ and ‘how they come together to generate such a balanced system such as the brain’.


In a study published in Cell Reports, we present a novel algorithm for the digital generation of neuronal morphologies, based on the topology of their branching structure. This algorithm generates neurons that are statistically similar to the biological neurons, in terms of morphological properties, electrical responses and the connectivity of the networks they form.

This study represents a major milestone for the Blue Brain Project and for the future of computational neuroscience. The topological neuron synthesis enables the generation of millions of unique neuronal shapes from different cell types. This process will allow us to reconstruct brain regions with detailed and unique neuronal morphologies at each cell position.


The topological representation of neurons facilitates the generation of neurons that approximate morphologies that are structurally altered compared to healthy neuronal morphologies. These structural alterations of neurons are disrupting the brain systems and are contributing factors to brain diseases. The topological synthesis can be used to study the differences between healthy and diseased states of different brain regions and specifically, what structural alterations of neurons are causing important problems to the networks they form.


Click here to access the Code repository for the topological neuron synthesis algorithm.


‘This study represents a major milestone for the Blue Brain Project and for the future of computational neuroscience.’

Click here to access the Code repository for the topological neuron synthesis algorithm.