Slicing Brains to Map Connectome in the New York Times

Ashlee Vance has an interesting piece on brain mapping through the physical thin slicing of brains in the New York Times here. It was in this article that I first read about the “connectome,” or the individual wiring of our brain:

“You are born with your genes, and they don’t change afterward,” said H. Sebastian Seung, a professor of computational neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who is working on the computer side of connectomics. “The connectome is a product of your genes and your experiences. It’s where nature meets nurture.” (par. 5)

The connectome reminds me of Greg Egan’s Diaspora or Greg Bear’s Blood Music as biological humans are converted into citizens in the former or a part of the cooperative noosphere in the latter. The brain has to be taken apart in order to recreate the individual’s memories and ways of thinking as a disembodied intelligence.

What does a life of science fiction thinking, writing, and discourse do to one’s connectome?

I am a professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on 20th/21st-century American culture, science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology.

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Who is Dynamic Subspace?

Dr. Jason W. Ellis shares his interdisciplinary research and pedagogy on DynamicSubspace.net. Its focus includes the exploration of science, technology, and cultural issues through science fiction and neuroscientific approaches. It includes vintage computing, LEGO, and other wonderful things, too.

He is an Assistant Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY (City Tech) where he teaches college writing, technical communication, and science fiction.

He holds a Ph.D. in English from Kent State University, M.A. in Science Fiction Studies from the University of Liverpool, and B.S. in Science, Technology, and Culture from Georgia Tech.

He welcomes questions, comments, and inquiries for collaboration via email at jellis at citytech dot cuny dot edu or Twitter @dynamicsubspace.

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