How Close Are We to Simulating the Human Brain?

Several high-profile projects that aim to replicate the processes of the human brain have recently received enormous grants. Still, completing the projects is not the ultimate goal, say researchers.

What's the Latest Development?

Though our understanding of how the brain works has advanced substantially in the last decade, our ability to replicate its functions pales by comparison. Such a lack of know-how is the driving force behind several high-profile attempts to recreate what the brain does and how it works. Henry Markram's ambitious Human Brain Project, which takes a bottom-up approach to recreating synapses, genes and neurons, has been awarded a grant from the European Commission worth half a billion euros. For now, Makram is concentrated on simulating a rat brain as a stepping stone toward a making a human one. 

What's the Big Idea?

Thanks to the rapid advance of technology, the techniques and theories used to construct current models of the human brain are likely to be outpaced by vastly better models, says Eugene Izhikevich from the Brain Corporation, who helped to build a model with 100 billion neurons. But far from being irrelevant, current research is essential for providing future models a starting point. "So, simulating a brain isn’t a goal in itself. It’s an end to some means. It’s a way of organising tools, experts, and data. 'Walking the path is the most important part,' says Izhikevich."

Photo credit:

Read it at BBC Future

Related Articles

How schizophrenia is linked to common personality type

Both schizophrenics and people with a common personality type share similar brain patterns.

Mind & Brain
  • A new study shows that people with a common personality type share brain activity with patients diagnosed with schizophrenia.
  • The study gives insight into how the brain activity associated with mental illnesses relates to brain activity in healthy individuals.
  • This finding not only improves our understanding of how the brain works but may one day be applied to treatments.
Keep reading Show less

Human skeletal stem cells isolated in breakthrough discovery

It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.

Image: Nissim Benvenisty
Surprising Science
  • Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
  • These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
  • The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
Keep reading Show less

How exercise helps your gut bacteria

Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.

National Institutes of Health
Surprising Science
  • Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
  • Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
  • Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
Keep reading Show less