Giorgio Ascoli

University Professor, Volgenau Bioengineering Department, George Mason University
Founding Director, Center for Neural Informatics, Structures, & Plasticity (CN3)
Director, Computational Neuroanatomy Group (CNG)

Founding Editor-in-Chief, Neuroinformatics

The main effort of Dr. Ascoli's lab is to connect the cellular organization of brain networks to cognitive functions such as learning and memory. His laboratory hosts and curates a central inventory of digitally reconstructed neurons in NeuroMorpho.Org and Hippocampome knowledge  base and has developed L-Neuron, a neuron modeling  tool. His  long-term scientific and philosophical goal consists in establishing a working model for the highest cognitive functions such as human consciousness.

Hippocampome Portal

The Hippocampome is a curated knowledge base of the circuitry of the hippocampus of normal adult, or adolescent, rodents at the mesoscopic level of neuronal types.

Knowledge concerning dentate gyrus, CA3, CA2, CA1, subiculum, and entorhinal cortex is distilled from published evidence and is continuously updated as new information becomes available. Each reported neuronal property is documented with a pointer to, and excerpt from, relevant published evidence, such as citation quotes or illustrations.

Link to Hippocampome Hub

NeuroMorpho.Org is a centrally curated inventory of digitally reconstructed neurons associated with peer-reviewed publications. It contains contributions from over 200 laboratories worldwide and is continuously updated.

NeuroMorpho.Org is the largest collection of publicly accessible 3D neuronal reconstructions. The goal of NeuroMorpho.Org is to provide dense coverage of available reconstruction data for the neuroscience community enabling the full and continuing research potential of existing digital reconstruction data.



This year Hanchuan Peng (Allen Institute for Brain Science) began the next phase of the effort called BigNeuron. However, rather than a competition, this time the project would be a collaboration.

The key idea is to create a single platform on which all algorithms can be run, compared, and their results combined to form reconstructions better than any one could achieve alone.

Link to BigNeuron Hub

See also Allen Cell Type Data Bases post.

Computational Neuroanatomy Group – GMU

The Computational Neuroanatomy Group, part of CN3 and the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Studies at George Mason University, is a multidisciplinary research team devoted to the study of basic neuroscience.

We are specifically interested in the description and generation of dendritic morphology, and in its effect on neuronal electrophysiology. In the long term, we seek to create large-scale, anatomically plausible neural networks to model entire portions of a mammalian brain (such as a hippocampal slice, or a cortical column).

Crowdsourcing Brain Data

Mason neuroscientist Giorgio Ascoli is working on another complexity related to the brain — how to handle the massive amount of data researchers are creating on a near-daily basis.

National Academies Keck Futures Initiative is a step toward giving researchers another tool in their work. It’s a data overload worth organizing because, as Ascoli points out, such a “knowledge base” could reveal patterns, show untapped areas for future research and cut duplication.

Todd Gillette

Future Technical Leader, Northrop Grumman
Curator, Neuroscience Knowledge Network (NKN)
PhD, Neurscience, George Mason University

Todd's dissertation was titled "Comparative topological analysis of neuronal arbors via sequence representation and alignment".

In addition to being the lead curator for NKN, Todd is overseeing the development of the Neuroscience Aircasts.

Todd has participated in the Allen Institute BigNeuron hackathon at Janelia and will be involved in the Oak Ridge hackathon Nov. 16-20, 2015.

David Hamilton

PhD C, Neuroscience at George Mason University
Dissertation title: "Machine-readable Knowledge Management of Neuron Properties."

David said "Neuroscience is the most interesting and potentially useful field of study available to me at this stage in my career. I was trained as an electrical engineer, worked most of my life as a software engineer, but desire to learn how the brain works to glean useful architectural aspects for continued advancement in problem solving."

Sumit Nanda

Graduate Research Assistant, Krasnow Institute of Advanced Study
PhD candidate
, George Mason University

Sumit Nanda research focuses on modelling and simulation of dendritic morphology.

GMU Neuro592

The human brain is often described as the most complex object in the universe. Tens of billions of nerve cells-tiny tree-like structures—make up a massive network with enormous computational power.

GMU Neuro592 is based on the book, Trees of the Brain, Roots of the Mind, by Giorgio Ascoli. This course reveals another aspect of the human brain: the stunning beauty of its cellular form. Doing so, Giorgio makes a provocative claim about the mind-brain relationship.

Skip to toolbar