Wednesday, April 25, 2012
I've just finished reading Connectome by Sebastian Seung. The basic idea is that we need to map the connections between the neurons in the brain, in the same manner that the Genome was mapped, to gain a full understanding of what it is to be us. The problems of technology and method are rather awesome. The author does provide ideas about how they could be overcome. He has a good way of dividing a problem or process into parts. The ways in which neurons might change to produce new learning and understanding are to reweight, reconnect, rewire and regenerate. The tasks we need to accomplish to decode the connectome are to carve, codebreak, compare, and change. In terms of healing, the hope is to provide means to prevent connections between brain cells that cause problems, or means to change the connections when they have already been made. The suggestions for living forever are interesting; the discussion of death is interesting in terms of the way in which it is taken for granted. I hadn't ever considered having my body frozen or pickled before the precious connections in my brain degenerated. Here are some other people studying the connectome. All in all, a beneficial read.