- National Scientific Council on the Developing Child
- National Forum on Early Childhood Policy and Programs
- Global Children's Initiative
- Frontiers of Innovation
- Science of Adversity and Resilience
- Students, Education and Leadership Development
Mapping Brain Connectivity
"Mapping Brain Connectivity"In this narrated, 15-minute multimedia presentation, postdoctoral fellow Bobby Kasthuri shares some of the results and insights from his work at the Lichtman Lab, using images and videos that show three-dimensional recreations of actual neural connections in the brain. He also discusses the future direction of this work in helping to understand how early adverse experiences affect connectivity.
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The new field of “connectomics” aims to understand how brains behave at a level not previously possible—examining how entire brains are wired together, how wiring changes as brains grow up, and how interactions with the external world affect this wiring. The Lichtman Lab at Harvard University has pioneered tools to potentially map every connection in a complete brain and started to map the connectome in mouse brains. Now, in collaboration with the Center on the Developing Child, and as part of the Conte Center at Harvard, the lab is recruiting students to contribute to this mapping effort.
Students will use computer-based tracing tools developed with the latest in machine vision research to assist in reconstructing neural circuits imaged at nanometer resolution in order to build colorful, dynamic 3-D images of neural circuitry. In addition to helping reconstruct a visualization of the neural circuits they trace on the computer, students will be training the next generation of machine learning algorithms—which in the future will allow computers to further aid human tracing efforts.
Connectomics image data sets are over 1000 Gigabytes in size and much of that data has never been seen by anyone. Thus, this is a unique opportunity to learn and possibly discover something entirely novel about brain circuitry. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to see and operate the technology that produces nanometer scale connectomes, including electron microscopes.
Required Education, Experience and Skills
The successful applicant will be meticulous and pay great attention to detail. Scientific knowledge and interest is helpful but not required; excellent visual acuity and the ability to trace accurately using computer tools are the most beneficial skills for this work. Interns will be trained to use the tools to identify and trace neural circuits. The candidate should be willing to dedicate 3-4 hours per week to the position. Duties will be conducted on the Harvard Cambridge campus in the Northwest Building. This unpaid position is open to high school students, undergraduates and graduate students.
If you can attend the lab on-site in Cambridge at the Northwest Building, please submit a resume and cover letter to Lisa Haidar at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to remain on a list of interested applicants for when the process is widely available outside of Cambridge, please send your resume and cover letter to Adrianna Lohnes at email@example.com.