Monday, August 20, 2012

Connectome

During my recent holiday in Ohio and Indiana, two great states, I bought and read a book called Connectome. How the Brain's Basic Wiring Makes us Who We Are by Sebastina Seung (New York: Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, 2012). Seung is professor of computational neuroscience at MIT. (Were it possible to start my academic life over again, that would be the discipline I would want to concentrate in.) He suggest the possibility that we are our connectomes, that is, the totality of the patterns of neuronal connections in our brains. It's more specific than "You are your brain," and very different from "You are your genome." We are, of course far off from mapping all the connections in our brains or nervous system, but it has been done for C-elegans, a roundworm that has 300 neurons (see pp. xi-xii).
What amazes me is how similar (though much more complex) this image looks to the graphs in my ConnectedText projects. Whether Seung's theory is ultimately a true description of us or our brains, I do not know, but some of his thoughts capture the nature of my external brain, kept in ConnectedText.

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