Reconstructing a map of neuronal connectivity is a critical challenge in contemporary neuroscience. Recent advances in high-throughput serial section electron microscopy (EM) have produced massive 3D image volumes of nanoscale brain tissue for the first time. The resolution of EM allows for individual neurons and their synaptic connections to be directly observed. Recovering neuronal networks by manually tracing each neuronal process at this scale is unmanageable, and therefore researchers are developing automated image processing modules. Thus far, state-of-the-art algorithms focus only on the solution to a particular task (e.g., neuron segmentation or synapse identification). In this manuscript we present the first fully automated images-to-graphs pipeline (i.e., a pipeline that begins with an imaged volume of neural tissue and produces a brain graph without any human interaction). To evaluate overall performance and select the best parameters and methods, we also develop a metric to assess the quality of the output graphs. We evaluate a set of algorithms and parameters, searching possible operating points to identify the best available brain graph for our assessment metric. Finally, we deploy a reference end-to-end version of the pipeline on a large, publicly available data set. This provides a baseline result and framework for community analysis and future algorithm development and testing. All code and data derivatives have been made publicly available toward eventually unlocking new biofidelic computational primitives and understanding of neuropathologies.
* 13 pages, first two authors contributed equally V2: Added additional
experiments and clarifications; added information on infrastructure and
In this paper, we present a new pipeline which automatically identifies and annotates axoplasmic reticula, which are small subcellular structures present only in axons. We run our algorithm on the Kasthuri11 dataset, which was color corrected using gradient-domain techniques to adjust contrast. We use a bilateral filter to smooth out the noise in this data while preserving edges, which highlights axoplasmic reticula. These axoplasmic reticula are then annotated using a morphological region growing algorithm. Additionally, we perform Laplacian sharpening on the bilaterally filtered data to enhance edges, and repeat the morphological region growing algorithm to annotate more axoplasmic reticula. We track our annotations through the slices to improve precision, and to create long objects to aid in segment merging. This method annotates axoplasmic reticula with high precision. Our algorithm can easily be adapted to annotate axoplasmic reticula in different sets of brain data by changing a few thresholds. The contribution of this work is the introduction of a straightforward and robust pipeline which annotates axoplasmic reticula with high precision, contributing towards advancements in automatic feature annotations in neural EM data.