Sunday, June 24, 2012

TEDxCHUV - Henry Markram - Understanding the Human Brain: A test of global collaboration


Interesting  talk - The Human Brain Project is pretty cool, an effort to integrate everything known about the brain into computer models and use those models to simulate the actual working of the brain. Partly, they want to develop AI, and partly they want to find gaps in our knowledge where more research is needed.
Ultimately, it will attempt to simulate the complete human brain. The models built by the project will cover all the different levels of brain organisation – from individual neurons through to the complete cortex. The goal is to bring about a revolution in neuroscience and medicine and to derive new information technologies directly from the architecture of the brain.

The challenges facing the project are huge. Neuroscience alone produces more than 60'000 scientific papers every year. From this enormous mass of information, the project will have to select and harmonise the data it is going to use – ensuring that data produced with different methods is fully comparable.

The data feeding the project's simulation effort will come from the clinic and from neuroscience experiments. As we try to fit all the information together, we will discover many of the brain's fundamental design secrets: the geometry and electrical behaviour of different classes of neurons, the way they connect to form circuits, and the way new functions emerge as more and more neurons connect. It is these principles, translated into mathematics that will drive the project's models and simulations.
Here is the TEDx talk from Henry Markham.




TEDxCHUV - Henry Markram - Understanding the Human Brain: A test of global collaboration
Knowledge of the brain is highly fragmented and we have no way to prioritize the many experiments needed to fill the gaps in our understanding. It is time for a strategy of global collaboration, where scientists of all disciplines work together to solve this problem. We propose building a platform to catalyze efforts, integrate knowledge, and use supercomputers to simulate what is known about the brain, to predict gaps in our knowledge of the brain, and to test hypotheses about how it works.

Henry Markram is the Coordinator of the Human Brain Project, a proposed international effort to understand the human brain. His research career started in medicine and neuroscience in South Africa, then at the Weizmann Institute in Israel, at NIH and UCSF in the United States, and the Max-Planck Institute in Germany. In 2002, he joined the EPFL, where he founded the Brain Mind Institute. His career has spanned a wide spectrum of neuroscience research, from whole animal studies to gene expression in single cells. He is best known for his work on synaptic plasticity. In the past 15 years he has focused on the structure and function of neural microcircuits -- the basic components in the architecture of the brain. In 2005, he launched the Blue Brain Project: the first attempt to begin a systematic integration of all biological knowledge of the brain into unifying brain models for simulation on supercomputers. The strategies, technologies and methods developed in this pioneering work lie at the heart of the Human Brain Project.
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