Saturday, October 24, 2009

Crowdsourcing the Brain 2

Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009 | Traditionally, the study of the brain was organized somewhat like an archipelago. Neuroscientists would inhabit their own island or peninsula of the brain, and see little reason to venture elsewhere. Molecular neuroscientists, who study how DNA and RNA function in the brain, didn't share their work with cognitive specialists who study how psychological and cognitive functions are produced by the brain, for example. But there has been an awakening to the idea that brains of humans and mammals should be studied like the complex, and interrelated systems that they are. Neuroscientists realized that they had to start collaborating across disciplines and sharing their data if they wanted to make advances in their own field. However, this realization came with a conundrum: Researchers in the modern era have come up with so many different ways to obtain data -- microscopes, MRI machines, super-charged computers -- that they've literally compiled more data than they know how to share... "We are swamped." Ellisman and his UCSD colleagues have devised a solution: crowdsource a brain.
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