Visualizing the Brain's Linkages

New efforts to trace the neural “connectome” — all the nodes and pathways in the brain — produce vivid images of the maps in our minds.

The human brain is a crowded place. It contains an estimated 100 billion neurons, connected to one another by a million billion synapses. Neuroscientist Olaf Sporns of Indiana University, cellular biologist Jeff Lichtman of Harvard, and computational neuroscientist Sebastian Seung of MIT are mapping these connections, aiming to eventually create a “connectome” of an entire brain. Each neuron can be thought of as a cellular decision maker: It receives a multitude of signals and decide...

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