The Caroline Werner Gannett Project 2007-08
Sebastian Seung

Sebastian Seung

Prof of Computational Neuroscience, MIT; investigator with Howard Hughes Medical Institute; conducts interdisciplinary research in physics, computer science, neuroscience


“Searching for the self in the brain's connections”

When: Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 8:00PM
Where: Webb Auditorium (James E. Booth Memorial Building 7A)

Talk Description:
What makes each of us unique? Your identity rests partially on your genome, the unique sequence of letters in your DNA. But life experiences also shaped many aspects of your identity, such as your memories and learned abilities. These are thought to be encoded in your connectome, the map of connections between your neurons. In other words, "You are more than your genes. You are your connectome." But your connectome has been too daunting to investigate, because it contains millions of times more connections than your genome has letters. Sebastian will describe the futuristic technologies currently being developed to find connectomes. He will also outline the prospects for curing brain disorders and improving ourselves by promoting and guiding the natural kinds of connectome change: reweighting, reconnection, rewiring, and regeneration.

Sebastian Seung is Professor of Computational Neuroscience in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Department of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and External Member of the Max Planck Society. He received his Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from Harvard University, and formerly worked at Bell Laboratories. His interdisciplinary research has spanned the fields of physics, computer science, and neuroscience. His laboratory at MIT is inventing technologies for finding the connectome, which is the totality of connections between the brain's neurons, and is analogous to the genome of the mind. His popular science book Connectome: How the Brain's Wiring Makes Us Who We Are will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in February 2012. He is an avid squash player, and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Links: Connectome: How the Brain's Wiring Makes Us Who We Are