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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

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,425 Ratings  ·  126 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, is ...more
Hardcover, 359 pages
Published February 7th 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2012)
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Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, biology
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
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: consciousness
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
Paul McNeil
Feb 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, medicine

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
Keith Swenson
Oct 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
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
Jul 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ideas
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
Steven Paglierani
Apr 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
David Everling
Feb 08, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Oct 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Karel Baloun
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Seung is a talented story-teller, weaving in history of science and famous ancient philosophers for a timeless feel, and also sharing the thrill of scientific discoveries and experiments. Connectome, as a craft of non-fiction, is polished to perfection.

His thesis is that each human being is no more and no less than the sum of the connections between all neurons, and all of the details in how these systems operate. And that this connectome is constantly updating itself until death, using the 4 R’
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
A connectome is a map of the connections of the neurons in the brain, Seung thinks that the variations within that framework is what makes us individuals. His descriptions of the brain and how it has been explored are very clear. I learned about axions and dendrites. synapsis and "gray matter" in the brain. He describes the brain like a very dense root system that is hard to decipher due to the complex way information is stored and exchanged across the brain. He says "you are your connectome. Th ...more
Masagos Hamzah
Mar 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Apt and succinct writing for such a profound and vast topic. Contains great and amusing references to philosophy and history combining science with art. A technical but otherwise informative book on the brain and its connections put in a simple manner for readers with basic biological knowledge to understand. Posits a great number of questions (More than answers) regarding the complex enigmatic mind.

Opens up the eye to the possibility of a future revolving around our connectome, Our self.

A thou
Luiño Seoane
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science
Unluckily, the science of connectomics is still in its very beginnings so that the book cannot move much beyond speculation. There is a nice compendium of cutting-edge techniques in neuroscience and the book is very well written, which makes you wish for more. I personally was expecting astounding scientific breakthroughs, but soon realized that it is not the moment quite yet. I'd be very glad if the author would revisit the topic 10 or 15 years from now.
Michael Durbin
Sep 21, 2013 rated it did not like it

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.
Aug 15, 2013 rated it liked it
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.
Cassandra Kay Silva
Feb 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
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.
Nancy Stringer
Jun 02, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
Sarah Field
Feb 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
Did not finish. I really really wanted to enjoy this book, but I just didn't get into it. It starts off quite well, but I found I couldn't follow the authors logic and I occasionally felt as if he was just listing facts. I think I was expecting something that was very neuroscience based, but from what I read this book is mostly about modelling what might be hypothetically going on in the brain. In general I found this book very vague, and it fell at the first hurdle of convincing me that connect ...more
Oleg Lopatin
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book. The author using a regular, non-academic language explains the problems and the challenges we have to solve in order to understand us and who we are.
Stephanie Wasek
Really comprehensive overview of the history, current research and potential future of research.
Jeff Rudisel
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great stuff for all us inquirers into consciousness.
Feb 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Didn't get a ton out of this. His proposed "Efficient Science Hypothesis" is interesting, and might be worth thinking about some more.
Anthony Cleveland
Jul 18, 2017 rated it liked it
This book is well written and can be easily understood by those with limited understanding of neuroscience. Well done Sebastian Seung.
Sep 03, 2017 rated it liked it
The book contained clear scientific explanation on the way the brain works, and discussed interesting issues related to the title. Good science reading material.
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
Jul 28, 2014 added it
Shelves: halfred
(view spoiler) ...more
Lage von Dissen
Sep 24, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Dec 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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,
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“Pascal meditated upon outer space, but we need only turn our thoughts inward to feel his dread. Inside every one of our skulls lies an organ so vast in its complexity that it might as well be infinite.” 0 likes
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