“Mapping Connectomes With Crowds and Machines” by Prof Sebastian Seung

Past Event

15 June 2012, 6:00pm - 7:30pm

Lecture Theatre, Oxford Martin School
34 Broad Street (corner of Holywell and Catte Streets), Oxford, OX1 3BD

This seminar is hosted by the Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology

Abstract: According to a doctrine known as connectionism, brain function and dysfunction depend primarily on patterns of connectivity between neurons. Connectionism has been explored theoretically with mathematical models of neural networks since the 1940s. It has proved difficult to test these models through activity measurements alone. For conclusive empirical tests, information about neural connectivity is also necessary, and could be provided by new imaging methods based on serial electron microscopy. The bottleneck in using these new methods is now shifting to the data analysis problem of extracting neural connectivity from the images. Our capacity to acquire "big data" from the brain has far outpaced our ability to analyze it. My lab has been developing computational technologies to deal with this data deluge. Based on these innovations, we have launched EyeWire, an online community that mobilizes the public to map the retinal connectome by playing a coloring game. Players analyze nanoscale images by interacting with one another and with artificial intelligence based on machine learning.

Speaker: Professor Sebastian Seung, Professor of Computational Neuroscience, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Biography: Sebastian Seung is Professor of Computational Neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Scientific Director of WiredDifferently, and author of Connectome: How the Brain's Wiring Makes Us Who We Are. He received his Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from Harvard University, and formerly worked at Bell Laboratories. His laboratory at MIT has launched EyeWire, an online community that empowers the public to map the neural connections of the retina. EyeWire is the first project of WiredDifferently, a nonprofit organization with the ultimate goals of seeing the material basis of memory and finding connectopathies, "miswirings" of the brain long hypothesized to be associated with psychiatric disorders. His book Connectome was hailed in the Wall Street Journal as "the best lay book on brain science I've ever read."