Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Wanna Play? Computer Gamers Help Push Frontier Of Brain Research

People can get pretty addicted to computer games. By some estimates, residents of planet Earth spend 3 billion hours per week playing them. Now some scientists are hoping to make use of all that human capital and harness it for a good cause.
Right now I'm at the novice level of a game called EyeWire, trying to color in a nerve cell in a cartoon drawing of a slice of tissue. EyeWire is designed to solve a real science problem — it aims to chart the billions of nerve connections in the brain,
At least Seung is hoping that's what people will think. But before he tackles the human brain, Seung wants to explore a simpler collection of cells: the ones in the back of the eyes of mice. So he and his colleagues created EyeWire, which looks at the neural connections in the eye. So far about 35,000 people have registered witheyewire.org to play.
"Anyone sitting in their living room can just fire up a web browser and look at images of neurons, and help us figure out how they're connected," he says.

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