The complete structure and connectivity of the Caenorhabditis elegans
nervous system (“mind of a worm”) was first published in 1986, representing a critical milestone in the field of connectomics. The reconstruction of the nervous system (connectome) at the level of synapses provided a unique perspective of understanding how behavior can be coded within the nervous system. The following decades have seen the development of technologies that help understand how neural activity patterns are connected to behavior and modulated by sensory input. Investigations on the developmental origins of the connectome highlight the importance of role of neuronal cell lineages in the final connectivity matrix of the nervous system. Computational modeling of neuronal dynamics not only helps reconstruct the biophysical properties of individual neurons but also allows for subsequent reconstruction of whole-organism neuronal network models. Hence, combining experimental datasets with theoretical modeling of neurons generates a better understanding of organismal behavior. This review discusses some recent technological advances used to analyze and perturb whole-organism neuronal function along with developments in computational modeling, which allows for interrogation of both local and global neural circuits, leading to different behaviors. Combining these approaches will shed light into how neural networks process sensory information to generate the appropriate behavioral output, providing a complete understanding of the worm nervous system.
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