by Serge Achildi
The Blue Brain Project is an attempt to create a synthetic brain by reverse-engineering the mammalian brain down to the molecular level. An effort to create the first computer simulation of the entire human brain, right down to the molecular level, was launched on June of 2005. The hope is that the virtual brain will help shed light on some aspects of human cognition, such as perception, memory and perhaps even consciousness. The "Blue Brain" project, a collaboration between IBM and a Swiss university team, will involve building a custom-made supercomputer based on IBM's Blue Gene design. Blue Brain project is being led by neurologist named Henry Markram whos team set the following four goal for the project :
Create a Brain Simulation Facility with the ability to build models of the healthy and diseased brain, at different scales, with different levels of detail in different species
Demonstrate the feasibility and value of this strategy by creating and validating a biologically detailed model of the neocortical column in the somatosensory cortex of young rats
Use this model to discover basic principles governing the structure and function of the brain
Exploit these principles to create larger more detailed brain models, and to develop strategies to model the complete human brain
For over a decade Markram and his colleagues have been building a database of the neural architecture of the neocortex, the largest and most complex part of mammalian brains. Using pioneering techniques, they have studied precisely how individual neurons behave electrically and built up a set of rules for how different types of neurons connect to one another. Very thin slices of mouse brain were kept alive under a microscope and probed electrically before being stained to reveal the synaptic, or nerve, connections.
The goal is to collect multiomics data describing every different level in the functional and structural...