The C. elegans Connectome Consists of Homogenous Circuits with Defined Functional Roles

Aharon Azulay, Eyal Itskovits, Alon Zaslaver*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


A major goal of systems neuroscience is to decipher the structure-function relationship in neural networks. Here we study network functionality in light of the common-neighbor-rule (CNR) in which a pair of neurons is more likely to be connected the more common neighbors it shares. Focusing on the fully-mapped neural network of C. elegans worms, we establish that the CNR is an emerging property in this connectome. Moreover, sets of common neighbors form homogenous structures that appear in defined layers of the network. Simulations of signal propagation reveal their potential functional roles: signal amplification and short-term memory at the sensory/inter-neuron layer, and synchronized activity at the motoneuron layer supporting coordinated movement. A coarse-grained view of the neural network based on homogenous connected sets alone reveals a simple modular network architecture that is intuitive to understand. These findings provide a novel framework for analyzing larger, more complex, connectomes once these become available.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere1005021
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Azulay et al.


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