Connectome: How the Brain’s Wiring Makes Us Who We Are – Sebastian Seung’s new book


Cool but kinda creepy cover...

The connectome  is a map of all neural connections in a brain, which I believe only currently exists for the flatworm C. Elegans. Seung’s group and collaborators are working using serial electron microscopy, and partially automated EM analysis and the crowdsourcing site eyewire  to reconstruct parts of the mouse retina, with the hope of steadily improving technologies to map larger and larger areas, eventually reconstructing an entire mouse brain, and then human brains.

3d Reconstruction from tracing and labeling Serial EM - Colors show cell bodies and processes of different neurons

If the technique ever becomes feasible for human brains, we will be able to test for connectopathies in various diseases (psychiatric diseases caused by theorized miswiring of areas of the brain). Seung also argues that the connectome may be the best physiological correlate for the essence of what we consider ourselves–it is formed by genetics and experience, and is relatively static but constantly changing–just like our personalities, habits, dreams, and desires.

I really want to check out Seung’s new book, Connectome: How the Brain’s Wiring Makes Us Who We Are. Seung is a great presenter, so I recommend you watch the videos or listen to the podcast below:

Sebastian Seung on Brain Science Podcast


You may also be interested in my post: How many neurons do we really have? (And why we might have 10x fewer glia than we previously thought.)


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