Molecular model of brain yields first results

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From the BBC, news of work presented at the European Future Technologies meeting in Prague on “Blue Brain,” a research effort started in 2005 to reverse engineer mammalian brains from laboratory data

While many computer simulations have attempted to code in “brain-like” computation or to mimic parts of the nervous systems and brains of a variety of animals, the Blue Brain project was conceived to reverse-engineer mammal brains from real laboratory data and to build up a computer model down to the level of the molecules that make them up.

The first phase of the project is now complete; researchers have modeled the neocortical column – a unit of the mammalian brain known as the neocortex which is responsible for higher brain functions and thought.

Where are they at now? They’ve joined the brain model to a virtual animal in a virtual environment and are watching how the animal behaves in its environment

“It starts to learn things and starts to remember things. We can actually see when it retrieves a memory, and where they retrieved it from because we can trace back every activity of every molecule, every cell, every connection and see how the memory was formed.”

The next phase of the project will make use of a more advanced version of the IBM Blue Gene supercomputer that was used in the research to date.