Saturated Reconstruction of a Volume of Neocortex
We describe automated technologies to probe the structure of neural tissue at nanometer resolution and use them to generate a saturated reconstruction of a sub-volume of mouse neocortex in which all cellular objects (axons, dendrites, and glia) and many sub-cellular components (synapses, synaptic vesicles, spines, spine apparati, postsynaptic densities, and mitochondria) are rendered and itemized in a database. We explore these data to study physical properties of brain tissue. For example, by tracing the trajectories of all excitatory axons and noting their juxtapositions, both synaptic and non-synaptic, with every dendritic spine we refute the idea that physical proximity is sufficient to predict synaptic connectivity (the so-called Peters’ rule). This online minable database provides general access to the intrinsic complexity of the neocortex and enables further data-driven inquiries.