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

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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.

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