Edward Shepard 28 December 2016

Citizen Science Levels up with Eyewire, a Game to Map the Brain


The beautiful cover art for our December issue 'Brain Wave' is called 'Electric Embrace' by Alex Norton. This image isn't just a synapse; it's a metaphor for how connecting people through citizen science projects like Eyewire can bring us to together to understand how our brains work.

Eyewire is a 3D game to map the brain, developed at MIT and now at Seung Lab at Princeton with data generated by the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research.

Anyone can play and you need no scientific background — over 500,000 people from 145 countries already do.

In Eyewire, you can help map the connectome. You can help discover things that machines can’t. Gameplay advances neuroscience by helping researchers discover how neurons connect and network to process information.

Simply by playing Eyewire, you will be at the forefront of scientific exploration, helping to map the connections of a neural network.

Explore EyeWire.org

Scientific American writes that “no specialized knowledge of neuroscience is required [to play Eyewire]; citizen scientists need only be curious, intelligent and observant. Your input will help scientists understand how the retina functions. It will also be used by engineers to improve the underlying computational technology, eventually making it powerful enough to detect “miswirings” of the brain that are hypothesized to underlie disorders like autism and schizophrenia.”

Eyewire’s first publication recently came out in Nature and demonstrated a new mechanism of motion detection.

For fun. For science!

In Eyewire, players are challenged to map branches of a neuron from one side of a cube to the other. Think of it as a 3D puzzle.

As you trace through each neuron you’ll rack up points based on speed, skill, and accuracy. Trace your way to the top of the leaderboard, engage in themed competitions against your Eyewire friends, and earn badges to show off your Eyewire achievements. If you’re good enough you can climb the ranks to Advanced Player, Scout, and the prestigious Order of the Scythe.

Look out for special in-game competitions as well. Eyewire holds a weekly Friday “Happy Hour” (2–4 PM ET), a Thursday “Happy Hour 180” (8–10 AM ET), biweekly VS competitions, and bimonthly themed competitions full of mini games that offer competitors limited edition badges, loads of points bonuses, and occasionally themed swag.

Eyewire players have made friends from across the globe. Players have even met up in person. Check out these Featured Eyewirers to learn a little more about the members of our favorite online community!

Growth of a neuron GIF from EyeWire

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