Human Connectome Project

International consortium releases brain connectivity data

Human Connectome Project
M.F. glasser and s.m. smith

The Human Connectome Project, a five-year endeavor to link brain connectivity to human behavior, has released a set of high-quality imaging and behavioral data to the scientific community. The project has two major goals: to collect vast amounts of data using advanced brain imaging methods on a large population of healthy adults, and to make the data freely available so that scientists worldwide can make further discoveries about brain circuitry. 

The initial data release includes brain imaging scans plus behavioral information — individual differences in personality, cognitive capabilities, emotional characteristics and perceptual function — obtained from 68 healthy adult volunteers. Over the next several years, the number of subjects studied will increase steadily to a final target of 1,200. The initial release is an important milestone because the new data have much higher resolution in space and time than data obtained by conventional brain scans.

The Human Connectome Project (HCP) consortium is led by David C. Van Essen, PhD, Alumni Endowed Professor, and Kamil Ugurbil, PhD, Director of the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research and the McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair Professor at the University of Minnesota. 

“By making this unique data set available now, and continuing with regular data releases every quarter, the Human Connectome Project is enabling the scientific community to immediately begin exploring relationships between brain circuits and individual behavior,” says Van Essen. “The HCP will have a major impact on our understanding of the healthy adult human brain, and it will set the stage for future projects that examine changes in brain circuits underlying the wide variety of brain disorders afflicting humankind.”

The consortium includes more than 100 investigators and technical staff at 10 institutions in the United States and Europe. It is funded by 16 components of the National Institutes of Health via the Blueprint for Neuroscience Research (

The imaging data set released by the HCP takes up about two terabytes (2 trillion bytes) of computer memory.

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