The Blue Brain project launched in 2005 as the most ambitious brain simulation effort ever undertaken.
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.
"The thing about the neocortical column is that you can think of it as an isolated processor. It is very much the same from mouse to man - it gets a bit larger a bit wider in humans, but the circuit diagram is very similar," Henry Markram, leader of the Blue Brain project and founder of the Brain Mind Institute in Switzerland, told BBC News.
He added that, when evolution discovered this "mammalian secret", it duplicated it many many times and then "used it as it needed more and more functionality".
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The Future Is Now, Vol. LXXII: Blue Brain
The Brain Mind Institute is attempting to simulate the brain down to the molecular level, starting with a single cortical stack: