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Neuroscientist Bobby Kasthuri wants to do the near impossible: map the entire human brain.

That means identifying each of the trillions of neural connections that exist inside the mind—a number bigger than the stars in the Milky Way galaxy. His success could mean understanding ourselves unlike ever before.

“I want to turn anatomy of the structure of the brain into what we did for the genome,” Kasthuri says. A scientist at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, he believes a map of neurons could tell us everything that makes a human being unique—from an individual’s memories and dreams, to a more intricate understanding of mental illness.

On this episode of Big Brains, Kasthuri explains how high-powered microscopes and supercomputers help him study the brains of mice, what makes humans distinct from all other living creatures and why the term “dim bulb” is more accurate than you think.     

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