Now, I’ll bet you find yourself asking, “What is a connectome?”
A connectome is a comprehensive map of the neural connections in the brain of a given species.
In it’s ultimate form, it’s every single connection of every single neuron in the entire brain.
In the human brain this is a complexity that is simply mind boggling!
According to various estimates, the human cerebral cortex (aka “The Gray Matter”) consists of at least 10^10 neurons with the entire brain at about 10^11. These neurons are then linked together by between 10^15 and 10^14 synaptic connections.
In comparison, the observable universe contains about 3 to 7 × 10^22 stars. (1 Billion = 10^9), and the entire human genome contains only about 25.000 genes!
Now if every synaptic connection could be represented by a single byte (which it can’t), it would take somewhere between 100 Terabytes and 1 Petabyte of data to store the connectome of the human brain.
The video link below gives a good visual understanding of the structure of the human brain. Zooming in from macro to micro structure, covering the low level function of single neurons and their intertwined activity through neuronal connections (synapses).
Regarding the state of present and future research in connectomics, Professor Sebastian Seung explains it all passionately in the TED|VID below.
He also puts forth the proposition that: “I Am My Connectome” and continues to speculates on the possibility of “Man’s Resurrection ”. Or to put it a little more precisely, wether the connectomes of the people, who have chosen to been frozen in liquid nitrogen after their death, still remains intact?
(The real question of interest, to me however, is still when we’ll se the dawn of the ever elusive NPU’s? )