On Disabilities

Connectome: How the Brain's Writing Makes Us Who We Are

Wednesday, February 29, 2012
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March 1, 2012

BOSTON — Neuroscience has long focused on the functionality of the different regions of the brain. But two neuroscientists, Sebastian Seung of MIT, and Jeff Lichtman of Harvard University, are arguing for a revolution, stating that this approach does not provide enough information to truly understand the complex functioning of the human brain. They believe that the key to the brain's activity lies in the connections between brain cells. Seung and a dedicated group of researchers are leading the effort to map these connections, neuron by neuron, synapse by synapse -- a development previously unobtainable due to the incredible computing power needed. The result would be a map of the brain's activity referred to as the "connectome", analogous to the genome.

If they succeed, they hope to reveal a more complete understanding of the brain's workings, uncovering the basis of personality, identity, intelligence, memory, and perhaps disorders such as autism and schizophrenia. Here, Seung and Lichtman give an overview of the importance of mapping the connections of the brain, and the new technologies they are employing in their endeavor. View the full lecture on WGBH's Forum Network.

An Interview With Paul Cellucci

By Emily Rooney   |   Wednesday, January 25, 2012
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Jan. 25, 2012

WORCESTER — A year ago this month, former Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci went public with the fact that he is suffering from ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He’s been maintaining a full work schedule while at the same time spearheading a $10 million fundraising drive at UMass Medical School aimed at research into ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Cellucci deftly operates a wheelchair at the school. While he has lost some control in his arms and legs, his hands are still agile.

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