Ganglion Style: Crowdsourcing Science Through Online Games


This image, created by Alex Norton, shows a reconstruction of ganglion cells in the retina, as mapped by online gamers.


Alex Norton for EyeWire
Seung Laboratory
MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and MIT Media Lab

It's all fun and games until somebody maps a neuron! Then it’s time to move on to the next one. The online game EyeWire challenges players, most of whom have no background in neuroscience, to create virtual 3D models of actual neurons using real laboratory data.

The reconstruction seen here shows ganglion cells in the retina. By comparing this gamer-generated map to previously collected data about the neurons’ firing activity, neuroscientists can create a functional model of how vision works. With more than 100,000 players, EyeWire has already helped researchers uncover how the eye helps us perceive moving stimuli.