Stanford tweet(ed) the #BrainBrawl

This afternoon (April 2nd), Drs. Sebastian Seung and Anthony Movshon met at Columbia University to debate the topic of Connectomics. Moderated by Radiolabs Robert Krulwich and science writer extraordinare Carl Zimmer, these two eminent neuroscientists talked for an hour on what connectomics brings to the field of neuroscience. For those of you not familiar with connectomics, it is the effort to use high-throughput histological tools (such as serial electron microscopy) to provide an extremely precise wiring diagram of the brain (or practically, of small volumes of brain tissue). Sebastian Seung (Professor of Computational Neuroscience, MIT) is an outspoken proponent of connectomics as way to illuminate fundamental truths about how the brain functions, Anthony Movshon (Professor and Director, Center for Neural Science, NYU) represented those neuroscientists who disagree with Seung regarding the critical necessity of connectomics for understanding the computations of the brain. During the debate, a small group (50-60) of Stanford Neuroscience students, post-docs and professors were watching together. 2 senior graduate students, Astra Bryant (Knudsen, Huguenard labs) and Nick Weiler (Smith lab) were live-tweeting. For those of you who missed out on the action, you can vicariously re-live the debate by reading our archived tweets below. It is currently unclear whether an official transcript/audio recording of the debate will be made available. When/If it is we'll update this post with the links.

Updated 4/5/12: The video of the debate

For the official announcement of the debate, see the Radiolab website, here.

The debate was organized by NeuWrite.

Enjoy, and feel free to contribute to the discussion either in the comments, or by tweeting with @stanfordneuro.


Astra Bryant

Astra Bryant is a graduate of the Stanford Neuroscience PhD program in the labs of Drs. Eric Knudsen and John Huguenard. She used in vitro slice electrophysiology to study the cellular and synaptic mechanisms linking cholinergic signaling and gamma oscillations – two processes critical for the control of gaze and attention, which are disrupted in many psychiatric disorders. She is a senior editor and the webmaster of the NeuWrite West Neuroblog