Project to build computer model of human brain takes off

Project to build computer model of human brain takes off London: A team of scientists has assembled in Switzerland and Germany to attempt the unthinkable -- building a computer model of human brain. It could potentially open the way to cures for various diseases such as Parkinson`s.



Called the Human Brain Project, but dubbed `Team Frankenstein`, scientists claim it could also lead to intelligent robots and supercomputers which would dwarf those currently in existence.



Henry Markram, a neuroscientist at the École Polytechnique Federale in Lausanne, Switzerland, has assembled a team of nine top European scientists for the research effort.
"This is one of the three grand challenges for humanity. We need to understand earth, space and the brain. We need to understand what makes us human," Markram said, reports the Daily Mail.



Scientists and researchers on the Brain Project believe that if they secure the funding, they will be able to replicate mankind`s most vital organ in 12 years.



The applications for it if successful are enormous; drug companies for instance would be able to dramatically shorten testing times by bypassing humans to test new medicaments on the computer model.



Supercomputers at the Jülich Research Center near Cologne, Germany, are earmarked to play a vital role in the research which Makram says will involve `a tsunami of data`.



Jülich neuroscientist Katrin Amunts has begun work on a detailed atlas of the brain which involved slicing one into 8,000 parts which were then digitalized with a scanner.



Makram added: `It is not impossible to build a human brain. We can do it in just over 10 years.



`This will, when successful, help two billion people annually who suffer from some type of brain impairment.`



IANS