Since its invention in the 1950s, computers have long been hailed as a replica to human brain and it was called “electronic brain”. It was one of the major inventions that have shaped mankind drastically in the last few decades. To date, computers are able to perform only up to pre-determined algorithm calculations. Scientists intend build a computer capable of higher function such as having a conscious thought and perceptions. This can be done by modeling a human brain. Many have failed to achieve significant progress in building it. However, a research team in Switzerland with an unconventional approach has produced a significant leap and it is expected to impact the society in future.
This research project is named Blue Brain Project, spearheaded by Henry Makram at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland. They aimed to build a detailed and biologically realistic computer model of human brain not an artificial neural network. While most of the scientists try to build it from zero, Markram and his team conducted the project by reverse engineering.
It began the project by studying the brain’s whole structure and mimicked brain’s behaviour down to every single neuron (Graham-Rowe, 2007). Subsequently, neurons are then modelled by using the supercomputers to form neocortical column, the main component of a brain’s cortex involved in perception sensory, generation of conscious thought, etc. From the cortex onwards, the researchers will continue to build the other parts of brain. Markram (2009) argued that modelling the cortex is the most important stage and it is the starting point from moving on to other parts of brain.
The team began building the model from experimental data that was collected for 15 years before the project officially started in 2005. In TED conference in 2009, the team has successfully produced a model of single neocortical column of a two-week old rat which contained about 10,000... [continues]
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