In 1993 Francis Crick and Edward Jones published an essay in Nature titled “Backwardness of human neuroanatomy.” They lamented our poor knowledge about the anatomy and connectivity of the human brain compared to that of the macaque monkey brain, especially for the visual system. “Clearly,” they wrote, “what is needed for a modern brain anatomy is the introduction of some radically new techniques.” Networks of the Brain, by Olaf Sporns, heralds a new era in neuroanatomy based on major advances in brain imaging and brain reconstruction that have been made since Crick and Jones’s commentary nearly 20 years ago. Sporns’s goal is to connect neuroscience with network science, the study of complex networks.
In the book’s early chapters, Sporns covers general principles of network science and offers background on the structure and dynamics of brain networks based on his research as well as that of many others, including some from my own laboratory. This prepares readers for the heart of the book, chapter 5, “Mapping Cells, Circuits, and Systems,” in which the author introduces modern imaging techniques.