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

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  851 ratings  ·  99 reviews
We know that each of us is unique, but science has struggled to pinpoint where, precisely, our uniqueness resides. Is it in our genes? The structure of our brains? Our genome may determine our eye color and even aspects of our personality. But our friendships, failures, and passions also shape who we are. The question is: how? Sebastian Seung, a dynamic professor at MIT, i ...more
Hardcover, 359 pages
Published February 7th 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2012)
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David
A connectome is the sum total of connections between neurons in a brain. Sebastian Seung argues in his book that one's connectome is the essence of an individual. A connectome contains one's memories and personality, and defines who we are. The idea is that at birth, one's neurons are connected with each another at random. As one grows, the brain's connectome changes through the "four R's": reweighting, reconnection, rewiring, and regeneration. These changes are the essence of growing new memori ...more
Paul McNeil
I've been reading a lot of books on the brain and psychology, and compared to those, this one is more about the brain itself- its structure, its neurons, and, above all, its connections. The idea of a connectome- pronounced "connect-tome"- is that technology is reaching the point where we will be able to map out all the connections in the brain, which will help us understand thought, memory, mental disorders, and so on. The book includes historical background, an assessment of the present state ...more
Michiel
This book was quite a pleasant read, especially compared to some of the other books on brain science I read. Seung gives a very clear and well structured overview of his ideas: from the concepts and principles of the connectome paradigm (basically the idea that a complete map of neuron wiring would allow us to completely understand the brain) to the techniques for constructing such a brain model to some philosophical consequences.

The reason that I give a relatively low rating is that I found th
...more
Mark

Sebastian Seung is one of a group of neuroscientists who want to literally unravel the brain's wiring diagram in hopes that it will be the ultimate tool to determine our individual differences and to solve such deep and thorny problems as autism, schizophrenia, depression and other mental disorders.

Seung is a good writer, particularly at explaining the basics of neuroscience and helping you understand the history of research that revealed the existence of neurons, the development of brain maps a
...more
Keith Swenson

Who are we? What are we? Dualists take the position that the mind is separate from the brain, while monists say they are the same thing. The connectome presents an intriguing third option: the mind is not the brain per se, but rather the way that the neurons are connected. Sebastian Seung presents this using everyday language, relating the effects to everyday occurrences and meaning. Your genes determine how your body grows from an egg to an adult. Your connectome is determined only partially by
...more
Emanuela
Uno dei libri di neurologia più suggestivi che abbia letto.

Si parla di connessioni tra neuroni, quella ramificazione infinita di filamenti afferenti ed efferenti costituiti da dendriti e neuriti che, come spaghetti cotti in un piatto formano il groviglio che costituisce la massa cerebrale bianca e buona parte del SN periferico.
Secondo l'autore "noi siamo il nostro connettoma" perché, a differenza del DNA che determina con i propri geni la nostra costituzione e la stessa struttura del SN, le vie
...more
Readersentertainment
What makes us who we are? Think about that question for a moment...
...Among all of the questions we can ask as human beings, even with all of our progress and our potential, that question alone remains one of the most difficult, or perhaps the most difficult, to answer. Innumerable factors are involved when it comes to the inner workings of the mind and how it serves to shape our characters and our behavior. We are only just beginning to understand the unfathomable intricacies of the brain, thi
...more
Patrick
amazon review:
We know that each of us is unique, but science has struggled to pinpoint where, precisely, our uniqueness resides. Is it in our genes? The structure of our brains? Our genome may determine our eye color and even aspects of our personality. But our friendships, failures, and passions also shape who we are. The question is: how?
Sebastian Seung, a dynamic professor at MIT, is on a quest to discover the biological basis of identity. He believes it lies in the pattern of connections bet
...more
Steven
Sebastian Sung is a brilliantly lucid writer. His analogies are clear; his ideas, interesting. Sadly his medical materialism taints the whole meal. According to Sung, there is no soul. Or anything else which can't be physically measured.

Most notably missing are any references to emergent properties. Nor does he refer to the idea that the knowable real world is based on naturally occurring fractal patterns, rather than on logically linear patterns. Worse yet, nowhere does he mention the idea that
...more
Gordon
This is a very well-written book about a topic which, alas, I discovered just doesn't do very much for me. That said, if you're interested in a layman's description of how the brain works from the perspective of a neuroscientist rather than a psychologist, this is a great book.

Seung's thesis is that the brain is all about how it's wired, how it's connected. Two twins may have identical genomes, but differ from one another in skills and personality and other attributes because their differing env
...more
David Everling
An accessible book to introduce and help explain the exciting theory that the mind is entirely encoded in the particular architecture of your brain. The central theme of "Connectome" is that such a mapping of the connections between neurons provides a far more complete picture of mental activity than other brain models. As Seung explains, mapping a brain's connectome would enable highly specific examination and treatment of a brain, going so far as to allow correlation of neuronal activity patte ...more
Al Bità
People will no doubt have heard about genomes, if only in regard to the Human Genome project. Author Seung now wishes to introduce us to the Connectome — a mapping of all the connections between neurons, both direct and indirect, in particular those relating to human beings. Obviously, this project will necessarily be long-term, taking possibly centuries, if not millennia, before it could be “finalised”; and even then will probably necessitate the use of large, powerful future computers. Seung’s ...more
Lage von Dissen
Seung explains some of the cutting edge technologies that are allowing us to map our "connectomes", that is, the physical layout of the neuronal and synaptic connections in the brain. It is generally believed that the four R's are the mechanisms responsible for learning and the ongoing evolution of our personal identities. These four R's are: Re-wiring, Re-generation, Re-weighting, and Re-connection. These four processes are integral to our understanding of the brain within the Neurosciences, an ...more
Rand
Jul 28, 2014 Rand added it
Shelves: halfred
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Michael Durbin


Started great -- like one of the best science books for a general audience I'd ever read. Then it got tedious and even annoying, as when the author urged me to memorize a set of terms (frontal, temporal, occipital...) because he'd be using them a lot. Then he hardly did. I think the author forgot his audience, got a little sloppy, and maybe thinks just a bit too highly of his idea. Which I think is brilliant, by the way. I just didn't need the last 89% or so of this book.
Sabin Serban
A cute little book in which Mr. Seung makes some bold claims wrapped up in a very accessible package. His insights come with a wealth of examples and explanations like the weighted voting system of neurons which is an approximation of the way neurons function to determine our actions.
All in all a very enjoyable book, which delves deep into the theoretical hypotheses under scrutiny at the moment in neuroscience, albeit in a very pleasant style.
Oscar
This book unifies a lot of information about models of brain function and the state of our understanding of the brain. It highlights a potential approach to understanding the brain: mapping the connection diagram of a brain, aka a connectome. The main hypothesis is that the connections of the neurons mostly determine how the brain works. Genes, learning, environment all converge in this wiring, but it is the wiring alone that mostly determines who you are, mentally, at any given time.

The book i
...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
I liked the writing in and of itself fairly well, the the premise the author was trying to sell did not quite come off. It's not even that in part I don't agree with him, its more that it should have been better developed and better researched to sway the audience. I just didn't feel that firing spark of joyful discovery that I had hoped to come across with this.
Holly
I checked out this book due to an off the wall conversation a few months ago when friends were discussing what exactly is a soul and how could a soul remember things if our memories reside in our brains, physically in our bodies. It made me realize I didn't know much about how brains work. How do we encode our data? When we forget something, what physically happened in our brain, when we finally remember or misremember, what happened then?

This was my first book on the topic. I enjoyed the book,
...more
Nancy Stringer
According to Sebastian Seung, the self is a non-material entity. The 21st-century soul, however, is not some strange ghost in the machine. It's information. You are, in effect, a piece of software running on the wetware in your skull.
Gianni Costanzi
Ho comprato questo volume incluso nella rivista Le Scienze di Agosto e devo dire che sono rimasto soddisfatto e affascinato dalla narrazione.. Non è un testo scientifico, ma nemmeno superficiale, ed è adatto ai non addetti ai lavori.. Ci si fa un'idea della complessità del cervello e dei meccanismi alla base del suo funzionamento... Di come si forma, cresce, si modifica e potrebbe essere riparato in futuro... Si parla di realtà conosciute e di ipotesi sul funzionamento dei neuroni, di come si co ...more
Damaskcat
The human brain is an incredible achievement and even now in the twenty first century we are only just starting to understand it, how it works and what can go wrong with it. This interesting book describes how far the study of brains and how they work has developed.

It is written in an easy approachable style though I must admit some of the science was beyond my understanding and I did skip some of the more complex passages. For those who have science qualifications above A level standard I’m su
...more
Maria
Sebastian Seung imagines neurons within your brain as trees, in "the forest that lives inside of your skull".

According to Seung, the most important goal of neuroscience is to harness the power of the four R's - reweighting, reconnection, rewiring, and regeneration. These can shape the connectome. The connectome refers to the collection of patterns that comprise our memories and learned habits.
Thus, the connectome is more evolved than your simple genome (the set of instincts that come programmed
...more
Matt
Seung explores the idea that personality may be tied to the neural network in each person's brain. While each brain contains the same neuron types, the connections between neurons differ according to the individual. He speculates that the unique wiring in each brain accounts for differences in attitude and functionality. The book starts with a quick history of phrenology (study of brain size in relation to performance) and then gets into the chemical and electrical workings of neurons. Then, Sue ...more
Vastine Stabler
A short (276 pages plus lots of notes), relatively easy read for the general user about the emerging science of brain mapping. While it covers most of the bases it suffers from the newness of the discipline. There is a limit to what there is to write about. There seems to be a fair amount of padding and digression. So for now maybe articles on the subject is probably enough and in five to ten years the will probably be a must-read book on the subject.
Hannah Jackson
The first third of this book was very interesting, because it explained a lot of old theories about the brain. It then turned very technical, which is fine, and went in depth on how the brain works as far as we know now. Then the last third of the book explains the authors research and just seems to be a ploy to get more money for his research. He turns the book into a grant proposal and it ruined the whole book for me.
Liz
I read this book over the course of several weeks, so I'm not sure how much of the beginning stuck in my head.
Anyway, I enjoyed Seung's explanation of the brain as a network (so to speak) even if I was a bit skeptical of some of what he said. As is often true of my responses to pop psychology, I would have preferred a bit more science and a bit less pop, but he did a good job making the idea both accessible and interesting, if a bit...shallow, I suppose.
I do feel as though I have a good idea of
...more
John Fawcett
Don't get me wrong, it was a pretty fantastic book that delves into some extremely interesting brain research involving Connectomes. I just had a problem with the author CONSTANTLY making the claim that connectomics has beautiful explanatory capabilities and great potential, but then fails to follow through on those claims to my satisfaction. Also, in the beginning of the book, Seung constantly refers to this revolutionary amazing way of explaining the brain known as connectomics, but takes the ...more
Sid Johnson
Excellent book for understanding what is known, and not known, about the brain, with a very healthy dose of great questions that remain unanswered, both philosophical and practical. One comes away with a better idea of how meager our current understanding is, and how silly the idea is that the brain mapping project will produce anywhere near a final result in ten years.
Kerry
I tried several times to get into this book, but it went from patronizingly oversimplified, with pop-culture references and overuse of metaphors, to pedantically detailed about biology, with little middle ground to stand on. Additionally, it begins with references to phrenology in which the author appears to try to give this Victorian-era quackery some credence . . . or worse, an update.
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