Yesterday we completed the first starburst cell. Today we have more news: the first synapse has been discovered in EyeWire and we’ve debuted a new way to play.
The image to the left shows a synapse (connection) between the starburst cell (SAC #1) and J Cell #1. Finding synapses is an important task on EyeWire, as our goal is to map more than just the 3D structure of neurons. In order to understand how information is transmitted through the retina, we want to know how the cells are connected to each other. This is discovered by finding synapses, as they are the points where information is transmitted from one cell to another.
We are currently working to understand a network of cells known to be involved in detecting objects moving upward in the outside world (a bouncy ball after it hits the floor!). Want to help? Be a synapse-finder by trying out a new way to play on EyeWire!
In order to get started finding synapses, log in and begin to trace “Inputs to J Cell #1” (this is the new default view). In this window, you’ll see what looks like random pieces of neurons; these pieces are actually far from random. Our advanced neuron analysts in lab have found synapse points on these pieces that they think come from Starburst cells. However, they can’t be sure of this – we need your help to see where they all really come from! In this prototype gameplay, you will map branches that connect to J Cell #1 from their synapses toward their points of origin. We will then check to see whether our analysts were right in thinking that these branches come from Starburst cells.
We want to understand which branches from the Starburst cell connect onto J Cell #1, as it is thought that only Starburst branches that point in a specific direction connect to J Cells. This idea helps explain why J Cells only respond to that bouncy ball when it bounces up (and not down, or side to side). In the image of J Cells shown below, note that they all seem to be “reaching” down with their branches. When something in the outside world moves up, that signal travels up the branches of the J Cell toward the cell body. We want to know if that upward signal is coming from Starburst branches that also only point in one particular direction.