Synapse from EyeWire, A Game to Map the Brain

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Submitted by Amy Robinson, Creative Director of EyeWire in the Seung Lab at MIT
Image Credit: Alex Norton for EyeWire from the Seung Lab at MIT

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Alex Norton for EyeWire
Seung Lab at MIT

We are trying to reconstruct neural circuits in order to understand how information processing happens in the brain. We are also testing the idea that anyone, anywhere could contriubute to neuroscientific research through crowd-sourced science. Good news: it's working!

These retinal neurons are among the first neurons ever reconstructed by gamers and may represent significant progress in mapping the cellular circuit that underlies a mouse brain's ability to perceive motion. The Seung Lab is interested in connetomics, or looking at how neurons wire together to form information processing circuits in the brain. One serious hurdle to this scientific endeavor is that is takes about 50 hours to reconstruct just one neuron in 3D. So we were inspired by Angry Birds and other viral online games to turn our lab research into an online game. We are creating software that will help automate the reconstruction of neurons.