Update: EyeWire

Update: EyeWire

By joining EyeWire, citizen scientists can help map the connectome, starting with connections between retinal neurons. EyeWire gameplay advances neuroscience by helping researchers discover how neurons connect and network to process information. Citizen scientists also help the EyeWire team develop advanced artificial intelligence and computational technologies for mapping the connectome.

In EyeWire, players are challenged to map branches of a neuron from one side of a cube to the other, like a 3-D puzzle. Players scroll through the cube (measuring about 4.5 microns per side or ~10x smaller than the average width of a human hair) and reconstruct neurons in volumetric segments with the help of an artificial intelligence algorithm developed specifically for the project. The project will also test whether citizen science can impact neuroscience in the same way that it has impacted fields like astronomy and biology.

No specialized knowledge of neuroscience is required; citizen scientists need only be curious, intelligent and observant. Engineers will use this input to improve the underlying computational technology, eventually making it powerful enough to detect "miswirings" of the brain that are hypothesized to underlie disorders like autism and schizophrenia. The researchers encourage citizen scientists to subscribe to their blog and connect with them on Facebook to get the latest EyeWire news.

Project Details

  • PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Sebastian Seung, professor of computer science
  • SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: Princeton University Neuroscience Institute
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • PROJECT TYPE: Data Processing
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages

    Eyewire site features quite a bit of information about neurons and the retina. After brushing up on the basics, sign up and play the game.

See more projects in FreeData ProcessingAll Ages.

What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

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