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Here's video of the recent "Brainbrawl" debate that Robert Krulwich and I moderated at Columbia about the quest to map the brain's 100 trillion connections. No blood was shed in the end, but I hope some light was.
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Great post, +Carl Zimmer I really wish Eve Marder could have been there for the conversation.
Great event +Carl Zimmer . A must entertainment for every brain scientist. :) They are both trying hard to be nice but the big problems surface. Do we need BIG neuroscience? Is it all have to be hypothesis driven or are fact seeking projects are also Kosher? The comparison of the promises made by the connectome project to those made by the genome project (and the actual outcome of that project) is very interesting in my humble opinion. It will be interesting to see at what level the connectome will be of importance to computation. I suspect that (like other answers in neuroscience) there will be some contribution from the connectome but it will not be a big one. This probable outcome stems directly from another point both speakers did not mention, the extreme multilevel structure of the brain. At present we cannot say how each level contributes to the overall computation. Are molecules important? Sure, but at what level and how they effect computation. Is the connectome important? Sure, but what is its relative weight in the computation? In this respect, both speakers provided a rather narrow view stemming from their own research. The debate should be broader.
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