Mapping the detailed connectivity patterns (connectomes) of neural circuits is a central goal of neuroscience. The best quantitative approach to analyzing connectome data is still unclear but graph theory has been used with success. We present a graph theoretical model of the posterior lateral line sensorimotor pathway in zebrafish. The model includes 2,616 neurons and 167,114 synaptic connections. Model neurons represent known cell types in zebrafish larvae, and connections were set stochastically following rules based on biological literature. Thus, our model is a uniquely detailed computational representation of a vertebrate connectome. The connectome has low overall connection density, with 2.45% of all possible connections, a value within the physiological range. We used graph theoretical tools to compare the zebrafish connectome graph to small-world, random and structured random graphs of the same size. For each type of graph, 100 randomly generated instantiations were considered. Degree distribution (the number of connections per neuron) varied more in the zebrafish graph than in same size graphs with less biological detail. There was high local clustering and a short average path length between nodes, implying a small-world structure similar to other neural connectomes and complex networks. The graph was found not to be scale-free, in agreement with some other neural connectomes. An experimental lesion was performed that targeted three model brain neurons, including the Mauthner neuron, known to control fast escape turns. The lesion decreased the number of short paths between sensory and motor neurons analogous to the behavioral effects of the same lesion in zebrafish. This model is expandable and can be used to organize and interpret a growing database of information on the zebrafish connectome. © 2012 Stobb et al.
Stobb, M., Peterson, J. M., Mazzag, B., & Gahtan, E. (2012). Graph theoretical model of a sensorimotor connectome in zebrafish. PLoS ONE, 7(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0037292