Virtual Talk: Petascale connectomics and beyond

Sebastian Seung
Princeton University

A connectome represents brain connectivity as a directed graph in which nodes are neurons and edges are synapses. The connectome of the worm C. elegans was reconstructed from electron microscopic images in the 1970s and 80s, but the manual labor of image analysis was prohibitive. Convolutional nets were applied to automate image analysis starting in the 2000s, and are now the basis of computational systems engineered to handle petascale datasets. The connectome of the fruit fly Drosophila is expected in 2023. Cubic millimeter volumes of cerebral cortex are also being reconstructed. The explosion of connectomic information is revealing the innate structures of nervous systems, and is expected to constrain theories of how brains learn. An exascale project to reconstruct an entire mouse brain connectome is now being planned, and depends on improving the accuracy of automated image analysis. Exascale connectomics may incorporate electron tomography for improved axial resolution.

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