The US National Institutes of Health last week launched an initiative to map the wiring of the human brain. The Human Connectome Project will provide $30 million over five years for work detailing the connections between major brain subdivisions in healthy adults.

Neuroscientists increasingly view the human connectome as crucial to understanding mental function and disease (see Nature 457, 524–527; 2009). The project demonstrates commitment to this nascent research field, and will generate "a new class of data for human neuroscientists", says its leader Michael Huerta of the National Institute of Mental Health.

Researchers will try to link brain connectivity to genetics and behaviour, by collecting DNA samples, demographic information and behavioural data from their subjects. The initiative also aims to improve non-invasive brain-imaging technologies.