28 February 2012

Modelling Human Brain

Officially, the Swiss Academy of Sciences meeting in Bern on 20 January was an overview of large-scale computer modelling in neuroscience. Unofficially, it was neuroscientists' first real chance to get answers about researcher’s controversial proposal for the Human Brain Project (HBP) — an effort to build a supercomputer simulation that integrates everything known about the human brain, from the structures of ion channels in neural cell membranes up to mechanisms behind conscious decision-making.

Brain researchers are generating 60,000 papers per year, they're all fantastic studies — but all focused on their one little corner: this molecule, this brain region, this function, this map. The HBP would integrate these discoveries, and create models to explore how neural circuits are organized, and how they give rise to behaviour and cognition, among the deepest mysteries in neuroscience. Ultimately, the HBP would even help researchers to grapple with disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.

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