Crowdsourcing the Brain with the Whole Brain Catalog

A very cool article on a new open source, online system to crowd source the assemblage of data in neuroscience from the Voice of San Diego.  From the article:

Traditionally, the study of the brain was organized somewhat like an archipelago. Neuroscientists would inhabit their own island or peninsula of the brain, and see little reason to venture elsewhere.

Molecular neuroscientists, who study how DNA and RNA function in the brain, didn’t share their work with cognitive specialists who study how psychological and cognitive functions are produced by the brain, for example.

But there has been an awakening to the idea that brains of humans and mammals should be studied like the complex, and interrelated systems that they are. Neuroscientists realized that they had to start collaborating across disciplines and sharing their data if they wanted to make advances in their own field.


Ellisman and his UCSD colleagues have devised a solution: crowdsource a brain. And this week they unveiled their years-long project — the Whole Brain Catalog — at the annual convention of the Society for Neuroscience, the largest gathering of brain experts in the world.

Continue reading

Henry Markram on TED – video online

We had read that Dr. Henry Markram of the Blue Brain project had given a talk at TED (technology, entertainment, design), but the video wasn’t released until this month.  This talk is geared towards a general audience, rather than getting into the specific details of the Blue Brain project, as he has before.  It is engaging and includes many suggestions towards the future of neuroscience and AI.

Watch it online at the TED website.

SfN party update

Neurodudes is out at SfN this year (well 2/3rds of us, at least!) Being from MIT, as I run into old friends on the poster floor, it seems like this year I’m getting asked more about “When and where are the MIT parties?” (which we are known to be epic) than, say, “How’s it going?” or “When is your poster?” You should be ashamed of yourselves! (And, really, don’t you want to hear about our cool images of growing axons? Come by poster B9 on Monday afternoon to see some neat stochastic modeling techniques applied to this data to find some general principles of how axons elongate.)

Then again, what is SfN without some great partying? A zoo of posters and tired feet!

Sadly, I believe the MIT Picower party has gone the way of Bernie Madoff. In fact, that’s literally the case. Happily, there are some alternatives. Almost all of them are happening on Sunday night. These include the Neuron party, a UChicago party at a local rock club, and the “unofficial” MIT party (a house party thrown by the 2nd year class). Since I’m not directly involved in any of these efforts, I’ll abstain from posting details here. But those of you who know me can check out my Facebook for details on two of them or, if you haven’t joined the social network craze, just drop me a line. Tomorrow night should be fun! And since my poster is on Monday after most of the partying is over, at least I’ll know that those of you who stop by are there for the science and not to extract party details…