A group of researches at MIT have developed a game to map out neural pathways in the human brain.

Imagine if every time you kicked back to relax and play some video games, you were also helping scientists get closer to solving complex medical issues. The implications could be quite powerful, as it is estimated that Earth’s population spends approximately 3 billion per week playing computer games. Harnessing even a fraction of this work towards scientific research would have the potential to lead to a wealth of discovery.

A group of neuroscientists at MIT have done just that with a game called EyeWire, which challenges participants to map out neural pathways in the human brain. Players get a virtual cube of material packed with a tangle of neurons to analyze. The layout resembles a three-dimensional coloring book: a computer looks over the model and does a rough sketch to map out a single neural branch amid the tangle, leaving the player to go over the details and accurately fill in any missing spots. Meticulously passing over and coloring in each slice eventually leads to the mapping of complete neural pathways.

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