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Connectomics: Mapping the Brain | Harvard Department of Physics

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By Brian December 18, 2013

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Despite intense interest in the ways brains work, we still have quite a rudimentary understanding of this organ, especially compared to our knowledge of the other organ systems in the body. One central problem is that brain function is based on a much more complicated cellular organization than found in any other part of the body. The brain contains billions of nerve cells and these are interconnected by trillions of synapses in a vast wiring diagram. This wiring diagram has not been described but likely contains the physical instantiations of all the brain does including all the memories we hold and all the skills we have learned. In addition such a wiring diagram may be disrupted when there are abnormalities in brain function such as learning disorders in children or psychiatric diseases in adults. In this lecture, Prof. Lichtman discusses how scientists are taking the first steps in imaging and understanding the wiring diagram of the brain.