EyeWire, A Game to Map the Brain

ECE Seminar: EyeWire, A Game to Map the Brain

Starts at: September 25, 2014 4:00 PM

Ends at: 6:00 PM

Location: Scaife Hall 125

Speaker: Sebastian Seung

Affiliation: Professor of Computer Science and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute Princeton University



In the 1970s and 80s, the entire nervous system of C. elegans was reconstructed using serial electron microscopy (EM). Since then neuroanatomists have dreamed of similarly complete structural information about the mammalian nervous system. The major barrier has been the human labor required to analyze serial EM images. This barrier is now being surmounted through two computational advances.

First, artificial intelligence (AI) has become much more accurate at image analysis; it is now faster for a human to correct the AI than to work manually.  Second, social computing on the internet enables large numbers of humans to collaboratively reconstruct neural circuits.

Both advances are illustrated by EyeWire, an online community of volunteer neuroanatomists who map the retinal connectome by playing a game of coloring serial EM images. In its first year of operation, EyeWire attracted 100,000 players from 130 countries. EyeWirers have helped discover a space-time wiring specificity between bipolar and starburst amacrine cells, which may explain how the retina detects motion.


Sebastian Seung is Professor at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute and Department of Computer Science. Over the past decade, he has helped pioneer the new field of connectomics, developing machine learning and social computing technologies for reconstructing neural circuits from high resolution images. These technologies are showcased by EyeWire.org, which has recruited over 140,000 players from 100 countries to help map the retinal connectome by playing a 3D coloring game.  Before joining the Princeton faculty in 2014, Seung studied at Harvard University, worked at Bell Laboratories, and taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.