Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


From Angry Birds to brain mapping: The Gamification of Neuroscience

Mouse Reti­nal Neu­rons (Type 25), per Eye­Wire Muse­um


A Quar­ter Mil­lion Gamers Helped Build This Incred­i­bly Detailed Map of the Brain (Sin­gu­lar­i­ty­Hub):

In 2012, when Angry Birds was in its prime, Seung had an inspi­ra­tion.

What if,” he won­dered, “we could cap­ture even a small frac­tion of the men­tal effort that goes into Angry Birds (for brain map­ping)? Think of what we could do.”

Although the ini­tial idea was to use deep learn­ing-based AI tools to recon­struct the neu­rons, humans were—and still are—better at spot­ting the pat­terns of neu­ronal branch­es and con­nec­tors than machines. Col­lab­o­rat­ing with Dr. Kevin Slavin, a fel­low pro­fes­sor at MIT with a back­ground in game design, Seung tried to make a game about brain trac­ing as enthralling as a first-per­son shoot­er. Spoil­er: you can’t … In the game, each play­er is giv­en a tiny cube of the reti­nal tis­sue, about 4.5 microns wide—that’s about the width of a human hair for a 10-by-10 block of cubes. To ensure accu­ra­cy, each cell is reviewed by between 5 and 25 gamers—if the results match up, the trace is accept­ed by the game as being com­plete. These traces are then fed as “train­ing data” to the deep learn­ing algo­rithm, which learns to bet­ter rec­og­nize indi­vid­ual neu­ronal branch­es among a giant tan­gled mass.

Even­tu­al­ly the goal is to auto­mate the entire process. While a pipe dream just five years ago, the pow­er of deep learn­ing in biol­o­gy has been trans­for­ma­tive. A recent study used a pow­er­ful algo­rithm to iden­ti­fy dead neu­rons in micro­scope-gen­er­at­ed images, a task nor­mal­ly rel­e­gat­ed to junior neu­ro­sci­en­tist trainees. As more data pours in, Eye­Wire may even­tu­al­ly learn to self-map, and such a strat­e­gy could be adopt­ed to explore oth­er regions in the brain in oth­er species.”

New Study based on EyeWire:

Dig­i­tal Muse­um of Reti­nal Gan­glion Cells with Dense Anato­my and Phys­i­ol­o­gy (Cell). High­lights:

  • A dig­i­tal “muse­um” pro­vides dense anato­my and phys­i­ol­o­gy of reti­nal gan­glion cells
  • The inner plex­i­form lay­er divides into four sub­lam­i­nae defined by anatom­i­cal cri­te­ria
  • The aggre­gate neu­rite den­si­ty of a gan­glion cell type is approx­i­mate­ly uni­form
  • Inner mar­gin­al gan­glion cells exhib­it sig­nif­i­cant­ly more sus­tained visu­al respons­es

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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