Posts tagged blue brain project
Posts tagged blue brain project
Bluebrain is a ten-year documentary film-in-the-making about the twenty-first century race to reverse engineer the human brain. Such is the goal of The Blue Brain Project, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, one of the highest-profile neuroscience projects in the world today. Blue Brain’s audacious leader is Henry Markram, who publicly announced in 2009 that he seeks to reverse-engineer a human brain with digital simulations of all the physical properties of every neuron, powered by IBM supercomputers, by 2020. Director Noah Hutton began shooting in 2009, focusing exclusively on Markram’s Blue Brain Project— but starting in Year 3, the scope of the film has expanded to include the work of other prominent projects and labs seeking to understand the brain through different methods, including Sebastian Seung of M.I.T., Rafael Yuste of Columbia University, and Jeff Lichtman of Harvard University.
The film will continue to survey the work of other projects and their leaders in years to come, with yearly shorts released ahead of a full re-edit into a documentary feature due for completion in 2020. As the Blue Brain simulation is built over the course of this decade, so too will this documentary about a historic quest in human history. Through yearly updates from Blue Brain and other prominent scientists, philosophers, and ethicists, Bluebrain will track a crucial decade in the human mind’s relentless drive to understand itself.
Scientists to simulate human brain inside a supercomputer
Scientists at its forerunner, the Switzerland-based Blue Brain Project, have been working since 2005 to feed a computer with vast quantities of data and algorithms produced from studying tiny slivers of rodent gray matter.
Last month they announced a significant advancement when they were able to use their simulator to accurately predict the location of synapses in the neocortex, effectively mapping out the complex electrical brain circuitry through which thoughts travel.
Henry Markram, the South African-born neuroscientist who heads the project, said the breakthrough would have taken “decades, if not centuries” to chart using a real neocortex. He said it was proof their concept, dubbed “brain in a box” by Nature magazine, would work.
Now the team are joining forces with other scientists to create the Human Brain Project. As its name suggests, they aim to scale up their model to recreate an entire human brain.
It is a step that will need both a huge increase in funding and access to computers so advanced that they have yet to be built.
If their current bid for €1 billion ($1.3 billion) of European Commission funding over the next 10 years is successful, Markram predicts that his computer neuroscientists are a decade away from producing a synthetic mind that could, in theory, talk and interact in the same way humans do.
One of the greatest challenges in neuroscience is to identify the map of synaptic connections between neurons. Called the “connectome,” it is the holy grail that will explain how information flows in the brain. In a landmark paper, published the week of 17th of September in PNAS, the EPFL’s Blue Brain Project (BBP) has identified key principles that determine synapse-scale connectivity by virtually reconstructing a cortical microcircuit and comparing it to a mammalian sample. These principles now make it possible to predict the locations of synapses in the neocortex.
“This is a major breakthrough, because it would otherwise take decades, if not centuries, to map the location of each synapse in the brain and it also makes it so much easier now to build accurate models,” says Henry Markram, head of the BBP.