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Developer(s) Sebastian Seung of Princeton University (formerly Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Director(s) Amy Sterling
Platform(s) Webbrowser (WebGL)
Release December 10, 2012
Genre(s) Puzzle, Citizen Science

Eyewire is a game to map the brain from Sebastian Seung's Lab at Princeton University. This citizen science human-based computation game challenges players to map retinal neurons. Eyewire launched on December 10, 2012. Over five years, 250,000 people from 150 countries have signed up.[1] The game utilizes data generated by the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research.[2]

Eyewire gameplay advances neuroscience by enabling the reconstruction of morphological neuron data, which helps researchers model information processing circuits.[3][4] Anyone with an internet connection can participate by solving 2D puzzles to fit together segmentation produced by artificial intelligence used to map the connectome.[5] In Eyewire, players reconstruct 3D models of neurons from electron microscope images by solving puzzles. Playing requires no scientific background.


Eyewire challenges players, "Eyewirers", to map neurons in 3D. Upon registering, players are directed through a tutorial that explains the game. Supplementary video tutorials are available on the Eyewire Blog.

In Eyewire, the player is given a cube with a partially reconstructed neuron branch stretching through it. On the right side of the screen is a grayscale image of the cross sections of neurons. The player learns to "color" inside a gray outline of a single neuron branch, which usually extends from one side of the cube to another. As a player colors, segmentations that were generated by AI are added to the 3D section on the left of the screen. Reconstructions are compared across players as each cube is submitted, yielding a consensus reconstruction that is later checked by expert players of rank Scout and Scythe. These players have the power to extend branches, remove erroneous segments (nicknamed "mergers"), and flag cubes for further review. This end result is volumetric reconstructions of complete neurons.


Each volume is presented to two to five different players. Generally, the trace chosen by the majority of accurate players is accepted. Players win points based on whether their tracing matches the majority of other players' tracings, time spent on the cube, and the new amount of neural volume found.


The goal of Eyewire is to identify and classify specific cell types as well as potentially expand the known broad classes of retinal cells.[6][self-published source?] Eyewire aims to advance the use of artificial intelligence in neuronal reconstruction.[7] The project aims to help determine how mammals see directional motion. [8][9]

Over 1,000 neurons mapped by Eyewirers may be explored on the Eyewire Museum, a browser-based visualization tool that pairs anatomical and functional data. [10]


The activity of each neuron in a 350×300×60 μm3 portion of a retina was determined by two-photon microscopy.[11] Using serial block-face scanning electron microscopy, the same volume was stained to bring out the contrast of the plasma membranes, sliced into layers by a microtome, and imaged using an electron microscope.

A neuron is selected by the researchers. The program chooses a cubic volume associated with that neuron for the player, along with an artificial intelligence's best guess for tracing the neuron through the two-dimensional images.[12]



  • Eyewire neurons featured at 2014 TED Conference Virtual Reality Exhibit.[13][14]
  • Eyewire neurons featured at US Science and Engineering Expo in Washington, DC.[15]
  • Eyewire won the National Science Foundation's 2013 International Visualization Challenge in the Games and Apps Category.[16]
  • An Eyewire image by Alex Norton won MIT's 2014 Koch Image Gallery Competition.[17]
  • Eyewire named one of Discover Magazine's Top 100 Science Stories of 2013.[18]
  • Eyewire named top citizen science project of 2013 by SciStarter.[19]
  • Eyewire won Biovision's World Life Sciences Forum Catalyzer Prize on March 26, 2013.[20]
  • Eyewire named to top 10 citizen science projects of 2013 by PLoS.[21]

Eyewire has been featured by WIRED,[22] Nature,[23] Forbes,[24] Scientific American,[25] NPR[26] and more.[2]


  1. ^ "5 Years of Eyewire". Blog.eyewire.org. 7 December 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2018. 
  2. ^ a b "About << Eyewire". Archived from the original on February 13, 2012. Retrieved April 17, 2014. 
  3. ^ Kim, Jinseop S; Greene, Matthew J; Zlateski, Aleksandar; Lee, Kisuk; Richardson, Mark; Turaga, Srinivas C; Purcaro, Michael; Balkam, Matthew; Robinson, Amy; Behabadi, Bardia F; Campos, Michael; Denk, Winfried; Seung, H. Sebastian (2014). "Space–time wiring specificity supports direction selectivity in the retina". Nature. 509 (7500): 331–336. Bibcode:2014Natur.509..331.. doi:10.1038/nature13240. PMC 4074887Freely accessible. PMID 24805243. 
  4. ^ Tinati, Ramine; Luczak-Roesch, Markus; Simperl, Elena; Shadbolt, Nigel; Hall, Wendy (2015). "'/Command' and Conquer: Analysing Discussion in a Citizen Science Game". Proceedings of the ACM Web Science Conference on ZZZ - Web Sci '15. p. 26. doi:10.1145/2786451.2786455. ISBN 978-1-4503-3672-7. 
  5. ^ "About Eyewire, A Game to Map the Brain". Blog.eyewire.org. 6 November 2012. Retrieved 31 January 2018. 
  6. ^ "E2198 - Eyewire". Wiki.eyewire.org. Retrieved 31 January 2018. 
  7. ^ "Neural networks: Theory and Applications". Seunglab.org. 
  8. ^ "Retina << Eyewire". Archived from the original on March 24, 2012. Retrieved March 27, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Eyewire". Retrieved March 27, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Museum | Eyewire". museum.eyewire.org. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  11. ^ "Challenge << Eyewire". Archived from the original on April 14, 2012. Retrieved March 27, 2012. 
  12. ^ Sebastian Seung (March 18, 2012). "Very small sections of neuron". Retrieved March 27, 2012. A few more words of explanation for the curious...you color neurons on Eyewire by guiding an artificial intelligence (AI). The AI was trained to color the branches of neurons. 
  13. ^ [1][dead link]
  14. ^ "Yes, that's Commander Chris Hadfield wearing the Oculus Rift. (And yes, the Internet just exploded.)". Blog.ted.com. 26 March 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2018. 
  15. ^ "USA Science & Engineering Festival - The Nation's Largest Science Festival". USASEF. Retrieved 31 January 2018. 
  16. ^ "Science: 2013 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge Winners Announced". Aaas.org. 5 February 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2018. 
  17. ^ [2][dead link]
  18. ^ "Science For the People, By the People". DiscoverMagazine.com. Retrieved 31 January 2018. 
  19. ^ "Top 13 Citizen Science Projects of 2013". SciStarter.com. 1 January 2014. 
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-04-19. Retrieved 2014-04-17. 
  21. ^ "Top Citizen Science Projects of 2012 - CitizenSci". Blogs.plos.org. 31 December 2012. 
  22. ^ "Eyewire in WIRED << EyeWire". Wired.com. Retrieved April 17, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Eyewire on Nature Blogs << Eyewire". Wired.com. Retrieved April 17, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Eyewire in Forbes << Eyewire". Nature.com. Retrieved April 17, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Eyewire in Scientific American << Eyewire". Scientrificamerican.com. Retrieved April 17, 2014. 
  26. ^ "EyeWire on NPR". Npr.org. Retrieved April 17, 2014. 

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