Hi BB&N students! Thanks for getting involved in Eyewire! We really enjoyed having you visit and had a few questions for you.
And remember, there’s no right answer for either of these questions - we just want to know what your takeaway has been based upon your experience in lab and with EyeWire. Thanks!
- We mainly discussed about the direction-selective retinal cell when we met, and Dr. Seung seemed to talk about one reason he’s studying the retinal connectome to see how we humans, move and process information for movement; however, this only pertains to that specific type of cell. Ultimately, I think the reason for finding the retinal connectome is to study the connections and therefore gain a better understanding of how the retina cell works with other neurons. It would also be more helpful for us to target specific parts of the brain if a malfunction occurs rather than removing a large chunk of it. 2. Connectomics will allow us to gain a better understanding on how our body (in specific, our neurons) work. We can also be more precise in dealing with mental disorders by pinpointing the certain area where the malfunction occurs. Hopefully in the future, we can map our entire brain and also develop more advanced technology during the process as well. I’m eager to see how much more information we’ll gain on this field in the next few decades!
Mapping the retinal connectome will detail how all the neurons of the retina are connected. With that information, neuroscientists will be able to make significant strides in understanding the function of specific cells within the retina. In particular, as we discussed, it will be possible to learn why some cells are direction-selective and others are not and why the pathways from cells to cells are wired the way they are.
The reason for finding the retinal connectome as I understood it was to map the connections between the different cells. This will allow us to see how the signals travel though the cells & why some cells are direction selective while others are not. This would give us the ability to determine the functions of individual cells within the retina.
The purpose of dissecting the connectome has several short term and long term goals. In the short term, we learn more about neurons and their interactions in the brain every day of mapping. These interactions can be studied to determine the sources of various mental diseases and deficiencies. In the long term, a fully mapped connectome (according to theory) could represent a human “conciousness.”
I suppose the main purpose of studying the connectomics is to learn more about the brain, an organ we still know very little about. If we fully understood the connectome, we could learn more about and potentially solve various problems and defects in the human brain. This could be an important step towards helping people who have diseases like alzheimers or seizures. Perhaps, if we really do understand the connectome some day, such diseases could be solved with brain surgery. That would be an amazing breakthrough in medicine.