An international team of scientists declared this week that they have successfully created an artificial intelligence program that perfectly mimics a part of a rat brain.
The project was built upon 10 years of research and it was financed by the Human Brain Project and it cost around $1 billion. The project is called the Blue Brain Project and it aims to reconstruct brains from different mammals through a computer. The project initially wants to build a functional rat brain, then eventually move to more sci-fi territory and recreate the human brain.
The program is highly controversial. Neuroscientists and critics from all over the world had criticized the project’s goals but also the viability of the goal.
The leader of the two projects is Henry Markram, professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, declared this year that he and his 81 colleagues finally constructed the scheme of a fully functional part of the brain of 30,000 neurons.
However, he mentioned that their achievement does not mean scientists are anywhere near the possibility of reconstructing a complete rat brain, let alone a human brain of 85 billion neurons or even more. But this first step is still scientifically relevant.
The report has been described by Cori Bargmann, who has been involved in both of the projects, as an “amazing tour de force,” considering the fact that it gathered so much relevant data in such a short period of time.
However, all the simulations done so far are in their infancy. Therefore, scientists do not know precisely what will the next move towards reconstructing a whole brain will be.
The partial reconstruction of a rat brain is the perfect opportunity and research tool that allows researchers to digitally map some of the characteristics of the animal’s brain cells and their connections. Scientists are not yet ready to upload an entire human brain replica on a computer, but as current technology goes, this is as advanced as it gets.
In order to build a virtual replica of a rat brain, scientists used data from some certain types of rat brain cells and estimated what would a portion of its brain would look like. Afterwards, they have simulated brain activity using artificial intelligence schemes and found that their rat brain replica acted just like a real brain.
The research is one of the largest reports in the neuroscience field. Many critics refused to comment on the report because of its length and they are taking their time before writing about it.
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