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Connectome: How the Brain's Wiring Makes Us Who We Are Hardcover – February 7, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0547508184 ISBN-10: 0547508182 Edition: None

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade; None edition (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547508182
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547508184
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #257,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

With the first-person flavour of James Watson's Double Helix, Connectome gives a sense of the excitement on the cutting edge of neuroscience New Scientist Witty and exceptionally clear ... beautifully explained ... the best lay book on brain science I've ever read Wall Street Journal Seung is about to revolutionise brain science The Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Review

Publishers Weekly Top Ten in Science for Spring 2012

“the best lay book on brain science I’ve ever read.” — Wall Street Journal by Daniel Levitin, Professor, McGill University; author of This Is Your Brain on Music and The World in Six Songs.

“‎This is complicated stuff, and it is a testament to Dr. Seung’s remarkable clarity of exposition that the reader is swept along with his enthusiasm, as he moves from the basics of neuroscience out to the farthest regions of the hypothetical, sketching out a spectacularly illustrated giant map of the universe of man.” — New York Times

“[A] bracing, mind-expanding report from neuroscience’s razor edge. Accessible, witty, [e]minently logical and at times poetic, Connectome establishes Seung as an important new researcher, philosopher and popularizer of brain science. It puts him on par with cosmology’s Brian Greene and the late Carl Sagan.” — Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Seung argues intelligently and powerfully that the self lies in the totality of the brain’s wiring.” — Nature by Christof Koch, Professor, California Institute of Technology; Chief Scientific Officer, Allen Institute for Brain Science; author of Quest for Consciousness and Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist

“With the first-person flavour of James Watson’s Double Helix—an account of how DNA’s structure was discovered—Connectome gives a sense of the excitement on the cutting edge of neuroscience.” — NewScientist by Terry Sejnowski, Professor and Director, Computational Neurobiology Lab, Salk Institute; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Member, National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering USA.

“an elegant primer on what’s known about how the brain is organized and how it grows, wires its neurons, perceives its environment, modifies or repairs itself, and stores information. Seung is a clear, lively writer who chooses vivid examples.” — Washington Post

More About the Author

Sebastian Seung is Professor of Computational Neuroscience and Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Harvard University, and formerly worked at Bell Laboratories. His research on artificial intelligence and neuroscience has been published in leading scientific journals, and also featured in the New York Times, Technology Review, and the Economist. His laboratory at MIT is currently inventing technologies for mapping connections between the brain's neurons, and investigating the hypothesis that we are all unique because we are "wired differently."

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Customer Reviews

Overall, I thought this book was very interesting and is a great read for anyone with a significant interest in neuroscience.
Arthur Morrissette
Sebastian Seung, a professor of neuroscience and physics at MIT, explains in his book "Connectome" the latest findings on the incredibly complex wiring of our brains.
Virgil Swing
Throughout the book, the author maintains an enthusiastic, funny, and sometimes sarcastic style of writing, and he manages to explain complex ideas very clearly.
Ximuth

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

92 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Book Fanatic TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a very good book with a very strange name. "Connectome" means the entire collection of our brain's neuronal connections, the totality of how we are wired together. The subtitle "How the Brain's Wiring Makes Us Who We Are" is a fairly accurate representation of what the book is about. I believe this is the author Sebastian Seung's first book and he demonstrates quite a talent for explaining complex topics to a general popular audience.

What I particularly like about this book was the material was not at all the usual popular neuroscience stuff. This book covered new ground for me and I think will for most other readers. Seung spends a decent amount of time in the beginning explaining some basics about neurons and how the brain works, but it is when you get into the central ideas of the book that it gets really interesting.

One thing I really liked about the book was how the author explained the technologies and challenges required to actually create a connectome of even simple brains much less a human. According to Seung we don't have computers powerful enough or the tools to even analyze a cubic millimeter of a bird brain's connectome, much less a complete human brain a million times that size.

The whole book was compelling and informative and I can easily recommend it to others. One thing to keep in mind however, is that it is very futuristic in a sense. Seung's ideas are very plausible to me but still unproven and speculative. The technology to validate them is not going to be available for many years.
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful By J. A. Bell VINE VOICE on January 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I loved this absorbing book about neuroscience that took me through the past, present and future of the human brain. Though I'm not a scientist, I easily understood the challenges, clearly laid down by Dr. Seung, of finding connectomes. His very eclectic approach made it that much more interesting, as he argued from "first principles," and questioned all of his beliefs.

Prior to reading "Connectome," I had never heard the term, originally coined by Olaf Sporns and his colleagues in a 2005 paper. "A connectome is the totality of connections between the neurons in a nervous system. ... It is all of the connections." (xiii) "You may have heard of the $30 million Human Connectome Project, which was announced in 2010 by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Most people don't realize that this project is only about regional connectomes, and has nothing to do with neuronal connectomes." (181) While Dr. Seung concedes that "in the immediate future, a regional connectome seems like the most useful kind for psychologists and neurologists" he is forward thinking to a day that all 100 billion neurons in the human brain are named, given a characteristic location and shape and are diagrammed. "To find connectomes, we will have to create machines that produce clear images of neurons and synapses over a large field of view." (140)

This is an ambitious goal. "We still don't know how many types [of neurons] there are, though we know the number is large. The brain is more like a tropical rainforest, which contains hundreds of species, than a coniferous forest with perhaps a single species of pine tree. One expert has estimated that there are thousands of neuron types in the cortex alone." (176) The connectome of a small roundworm (C.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Tracy Marks VINE VOICE on January 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Worthwhile things that have never been done can only be done by means that have never yet existed," Sebastian Seung tells us in CONNECTOME. Mapping the 100+ billion neurons in the human brain is certainly one such project, and we are far from having the means to do so.

But already, with the mapping and study of the 300 neurons in the C.elegans roundworm and ongoing development in imaging technology (such as the automated ultramicrotome), we are making strides toward understanding the structure and function of diverse neurons, and how their interactive network operates.

Author Seung is a professor of neuroscience at MIT, and a leading researcher on neural networks and the still-theoretical connectome. The term connectome, first coined in 2005, refers to the totality of connections between neurons. The field of neuroscience involves learning how neurons are strengthened, weakened, weighted and eliminated and how they connect and reconnect, rewire, and regenerate.

The first half of his book begins with chapters about: 1) the structure and role of neurons; 2) connectomes and their interconnectivity; 3) how memories are impressed and stored; 4) and genes. The next sections cover the development of imaging technologies and the lifelong task of reading and interpreting the voluminous data acquired.

Unfortunately, at this point, Seung comes across less as a scientist and more as a science fiction writer as he resorts to speculation about cryonics (brain and body preservation), uploading brains into computers, and immortality. The book would be much more substantial if he omitted the last few chapters.

Seung, however, is a talented writer with the unique ability to impart scientific theory in understandable language.
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