Connectome: How the Brain's Wiring Makes Us Who We Are Audiobook | Sebastian Seung | Audible.com
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Connectome: How the Brain's Wiring Makes Us Who We Are | [Sebastian Seung]

Connectome: How the Brain's Wiring Makes Us Who We Are

Sebastian Seung, a dynamic professor at MIT, is on a quest to discover the biological basis of identity. He believes it lies in the pattern of connections between the brain’s neurons, which change slowly over time as we learn and grow. The connectome, as it’s called, is where our genetic inheritance intersects with our life experience. It’s where nature meets nurture. Seung introduces us to the dedicated researchers who are mapping the brain’s connections, neuron by neuron, synapse by synapse.
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Publisher's Summary

We know that each of us is unique, but science has struggled to pinpoint where, precisely, our uniqueness resides. Is it in our genes? The structure of our brains? Our genome may determine our eye color and even aspects of our personality. But our friendships, failures, and passions also shape who we are. The question is: how?

Sebastian Seung, a dynamic professor at MIT, is on a quest to discover the biological basis of identity. He believes it lies in the pattern of connections between the brain’s neurons, which change slowly over time as we learn and grow. The connectome, as it’s called, is where our genetic inheritance intersects with our life experience. It’s where nature meets nurture.

Seung introduces us to the dedicated researchers who are mapping the brain’s connections, neuron by neuron, synapse by synapse. It is a monumental undertaking - the scientific equivalent of climbing Mount Everest - but if they succeed, it could reveal the basis of personality, intelligence, memory, and perhaps even mental disorders. Many scientists speculate that people with anorexia, autism, and schizophrenia are “wired differently,” but nobody knows for sure. The brain’s wiring has never been seen clearly.

.In sparklingly clear prose, Seung reveals the amazing technological advances that will soon help us map connectomes. He also examines the evidence that these maps will someday allow humans to “upload” their minds into computers, achieving a kind of immortality.

Connectome is a mind-bending adventure story, told with great passion and authority. It presents a daring scientific and technological vision for at last understanding what makes us who we are. Welcome to the future of neuroscience.

©2012 Sebastian Seung (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“A landmark work, gorgeously written. No other researcher has traveled as deeply into the brain forest and emerged to share its secrets.” (David Eagleman, author of Incognito and Sum)

“Connectomics is emerging as a crucial and exhilarating field of study. Sebastian Seung takes you by the hand and shows you why. Connectome is a page-turner—a book that should be read by anyone who lays claim to be thinking about the nature of life.” (Michael Gazzaniga, University of California at Santa Barbara, author of Human and Who’s in Charge?)

“Sebastian Seung scales the heights of neuroscience and casts his brilliant eye around, describing the landscape of its past and boldly envisioning a future when we may understand our own brains and thus ourselves.” (Kenneth Blum, executive director, Center for Brain Science, Harvard University)

What Members Say

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  •  
    aaron los angeles, CA, United States 03-24-12
    aaron los angeles, CA, United States 03-24-12 Member Since 2008

    Let's face it, these authors aren't paying me, so there's no need to lie!!

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    "A Nice Addition to Your Brain Science Library"

    Seung's theory, of how the brain stores memories/experiences, is quite extraordinary. I'm no brain scientist, but I've read a number of books on the subject, and as far as I know this is the first book to adequately detail this process. Seung describes this in a way that even the non-scholarly reader can understand. The basic brain science you NEED to know in order to understand this book, he explains quickly and effectively.

    His last few chapters, on the future science of connectome research is worth the credit all by itself. He touches on cryogenics, and why it's probably not going to work the way that all the frozen people hope it will. He then discusses a few options of preserving your brain for eternity that MAY actually work.. Overall, if you enjoy brain science, and how the brain effects the way we see the world, then get this book.

    Narrator is very good.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Everling Palo Alto, California 02-15-12
    David Everling Palo Alto, California 02-15-12 Member Since 2010

    Skipper

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    "Complex Form is Complex Function"

    An accessible book to introduce and help explain the exciting theory that the mind is entirely encoded in the particular architecture of your brain. The central theme of "Connectome" is that such a mapping of the connections between neurons provides a far more complete picture of mental activity than other brain models. As Seung explains, mapping a brain's connectome would enable highly specific examination and treatment of a brain, going so far as to allow correlation of neuronal activity patterns with memory and conscious experience itself.

    The catch is the monumental technical challenge of obtaining and handling so much data, as mapping a connectome, like mapping a DNA genome, is a computationally expensive process. In fact, mapping the connections in a human brain is many, many orders of magnitude more complex given the density of neurons and the intricacy of their connections in brain tissue. Furthermore, technology with the proper specificity to automate the delicate task is still in early stage development. Thus a corollary theme in the book relates to the pace of technological change: the field of connectomics banks on the continuation of exponential growth in computer processing speed (e.g. Moore's Law) and accompanying technologies. Assuming that technology continues to progress as it has, Seung proposes that connectomes will naturally become the substrate of which we discuss our mental selves and our conscious identity.

    Other notes:
    The fundamental idea of the connectome is persuasive and fascinating, but perhaps because of such preexisting interests, this book was less in-depth than I was hoping for, and much of the content therein will be familiar to other fans of cognitive science or avid tech enthusiasts. Seung devotes the end of the book to the interesting future possibilities of cyber immortality, but they come with the usual speculation & caveats and don't yield much of a takeaway message. Seung's writing style is natural if not as crisp as a science journalist, just occasionally veering too folksy for the science (with a few awkwardly stilted metaphors). MacLeod Andrews generally handles it well and offers quality narration, though I think some phrasing might have sounded more natural in Sebastian Seung's own voice.

    I was originally introduced to Sebastian Seung's "Connectome" in his excellent 2010 TED Talk

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 09-20-12
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 09-20-12 Member Since 2008

    College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.

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    "Very interesting book, but..."

    probably more for the neophyte in this area of study than for those who understand the basics of neuronal connectivity. One might even say that Seung has taken an already more or less widely circulated bit of knowledge (our brains and how they change through life shape who we are and what we are) and merely given it a catchy new name: Connectome. This is not to significantly take away from what turns out to be a very good book. It is informative and insightful, just don't expect something dazzlingly new here if you have read heavily in this field of study. (Watch Seung's TED presentation on this subject on youtube to get a good idea of where the book is going and if you find that simplistic, this book may come across that way to you too.) One thing that I do really like is that Seung explicitly states that we are, to a goodly degree, responsible for a major part of the development of our "Connectome." That is, that we have free will in shaping our brain structures with our choices and actions, avoiding the dreaded Determinism (real or imagined) that many people want to see in various studies of brain science. This is good science presented clearly for the layman, but again, it might be a bit of a retread for those well-versed in brain study.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Bajer Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 07-10-12
    D. Bajer Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 07-10-12 Member Since 2012

    Teacher, permaculture designer, master gardener, and systemes thinker.

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    "Worth the listen"
    Where does Connectome rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Seung makes a pretty convincing argument of their existence of connectomes and how, if only we could advance our technological abilities to better image the brain, they could provide deep insight into mysteries of the mind.

    Overall a good listen and I would recommend it. Seung does, however, go off on a few long(ish) tangents that I didn't add to the book; specifically, the need for better technology (I agree but I wish that he hadn't spend so much time arguing it) and some of the strange hypothetical scenario near the end such as uploading ourselves into supercomputers... interesting, but I felt that it somehow detracted from the more concrete aspects of the book.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alex United States 05-02-12
    Alex United States 05-02-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Speculative, disjointed. Not ready for prime time."

    This book should have been an article. The field has not produced enough true science to justify a book-length treatment. The book MIGHT be of interest to people who know very little about neurobiology, since the basics of brain science are covered adequately. But if you have any sort of background in neuroscience, you may want to wait until connectomics has actually produced some substantial results before you a read a book about it.

    Some of the topics in the book (such as cryonics) are given too much coverage, and the overall flow of the book is not as smooth as one might hope.

    Also, the narrator uses some very questionable pronunciations of words like "genomics" and "axonal". He also mispronounces names, such as "Koch" and "Turgenev".

    Overall, I did not enjoy this book and would not recommend it.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr. Baruch Axelrod USA 03-29-13

    Book Lover

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    "Very well written and narrated"
    What did you love best about Connectome?

    Its detailed explanation from bottom up


    What other book might you compare Connectome to and why?

    There are a lot of others book about the brain. Most of them are very good.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    No Scene


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. I litened to it why jogging in the Gym


    Any additional comments?

    Thanks to the writer for 10.5 hours of enjoyable jogging.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rodrigo Sandoval Almazan Albany, NY 03-04-13
    Rodrigo Sandoval Almazan Albany, NY 03-04-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Too heavy"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Is a book for researchers on brain development. I want to understand the main principles of conectome, but what I found was dissapointed.


    What was most disappointing about Sebastian Seung’s story?

    I think too much of scientific vocabulary and arguments related to it. But the use of Jennifer Aniston as an example is the worst part of the book.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Great narration, some cool examples, but few contribution to understand clearly the subject of study.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott SUNNYVALE, CA, United States 07-13-12
    Scott SUNNYVALE, CA, United States 07-13-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Less than Expected = Disappointed"

    It should have been exciting and fresh... but it was just lightly warmed up science with an appeal for money to run a connectome project. The connectome is a mapping of synaptic connections that can be done by slicing a brain really thin over and over and then scanned by high speed computers. It costs lots of money and it might yield some exciting science someday. The brain is complex and mysterious and this book wasn't.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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