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Scientists Building Human Brain

Tuesday, 17 April 2012, 05:50 Hrs
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London: Scientists say they are building a “human brain”, using the world’s most powerful supercomputer that will simulate the entire mind and thus help fight against brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.

The “brain” is intended to combine all the information so far uncovered about its mysterious workings — and replicate them on a screen, right down to the level of individual cells and molecules, says an international team behind the project. The scientists hope to complete it within 12 years.

If it works it could be revolutionary for understanding devastating neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and even shedding light into how we think, and make decisions, the Daily Mail reported. Switzerland-based Henry Markram, who is leading the team which include UK-based Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said: “The complexity of brain, with its billions of interconnected neurons, makes it hard for neuroscientists to truly understand how it works. Simulating it will make it much easier, allowing them to manipulate and measure any aspect of the brain.”

Housed at a facility in Dusseldorf in Germany, the “brain” will feature thousands of three-dimensional images built around a semi-circular “cockpit” so the scientists can virtually “fly” around different areas and watch how they communicate with each other.

The human brain has 100 billion neurons. Each one performs billions of “calculations’ per second — roughly similar to a desktop computer. So, the computer will need to be able to do a billion calculations that will require the output of a nuclear power station, say the scientists.

Prof Markram said: “This will, when successful, help two billion people annually who suffer from some type of brain impairment. This is one of the three grand challenges for humanity.

Source: PTI
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