Ben chats with Sebastian Seung, a neuroscience researcher whose latest work — in cooperation with teams at MIT, at Germany’s Max Planck Institute and at other cutting-edge institutions — is proving that an improbable-sounding dream isn’t so improbable after all: We may be able to map the structure and function of every neural connection in an entire mammalian nervous system, from the cellular level up… and it may happen within our lifetimes.
Seung’s bestselling book Connectome offers an exciting tour through this fast-growing field of connectomics — and in fact, it was his TEDTalk, “I Am My Connectome,” that sparked the creation of this very website, almost three years ago. His lab also created the free crowdsource game EyeWire, which lets anyone with a computer and an internet connection help his research team map the cellular structure of the brain.
But he’s on the show today to talk about the latest project he and his co-researchers have published: A structural map of all 950+ neurons in a patch of retina. Not only does this project represent a leap upward in complexity of neural mapping — it also required innovative new techniques for crunching massive amounts of data; and the result is a proof-of-concept for a revolution in the way we approach our study of the brain.
You can read more here, in Ben’s article for Scientific American: “The Neuroscience Revolution Will Be Crowdsourced.”
Enjoy, and feel free to email us questions and suggestions for next time!
(Produced by Devin O’Neill)