The NeuroMapping Center has the goal of unraveling the complex networks and patterns of activity that are the neural basis of movement, cognition, affect, language, and creativity—in other words, all that makes us human. This Center will be deeply involved in exploring the mind-body connection that is the basis of the emerging field of health neuroscience. A key element of this endeavor will be comparing neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, behavioral, and imaging studies in animals and humans.
The University of Pittsburgh is a natural site for this venture. Pitt scientists have been at the forefront in developing High Definition Fiber Tracking with magnetic resonance imaging to reveal axonal pathways in the brain. Furthermore, Dr. Peter L. Strick’s lab has developed new techniques for locating and defining neural networks, through the use of transneuronal tracers that are capable of revealing chains of interconnected neurons. The University has a Center for Neuroanatomy with Neurotropic Viruses, the only National Resource Center of its kind. This Center is funded by NIH to: 1) serve as a technical and intellectual resource for those interested in using the virus tracing method; 2) develop improved transneuronal tracing tools to enable dissection of the functional architecture of neural circuits; and 3) serve as a repository for well-characterized reagents essential to application of this method.