I briefly met Professor of Computational Neuroscience (MIT) Sebastian Seung a few weeks ago, then listen to a lecture he gave in New York. I wasn’t paying much attention (I was actually working) but now and then a bit caught my imagination (I remember him saying that if you want to be immortal, you definitely don’t want to be cryogenized but dried frozen instead.)
The goals of the Eyewire project are to identify specific cell types within the known broad classes of retinal cells, and to map the connections between neurons in the retina, which will help to determine how vision works. EyeWire is part of a larger effort called WiredDifferently, whose goal is to show that the uniqueness of a person lies in the pattern of connections between their neurons, or their connectome.
The first immediate goal is to reconstruct the three-dimensional shapes of retinal neurons from two-dimensional images. The second goal is to identify the synapses to determine what the connections between the mapped neurons are. The final goal is to relate the connectivity with the known activity of the neurons.
Watch Sebastian on TED
Listen to him talk about connectome on To The Best of Our Knowledge.