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The Human Brain Project Reconstructs Your Grey Matter

Tue, 01/29/2013 - 9:49am
Technical University Munich

Scientists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen will coordinate the part of the “Human Brain Project” focusing on Neurorobotics. It is here that with simulated and real systems the feasibility of the conceptual models of the brain will first be tested. The systems consist of sensors for data acquisition, data-processing elements, and actuators to carry out operations. (Credit: TUM)Extensive knowledge about the human brain and its functioning already exists, but is highly fragmented. The goal of the Human Brain Project is to pull together this knowledge and to reconstruct the brain, piece by piece, in supercomputer-based models and simulations. The models offer the prospect of a new understanding of the human brain and its diseases and of completely new computing and robotic technologies.

Neurorobitics: A First Feasibility Check

Scientists of the Technical University Munich (TUM) will coordinate the part of the project focusing on Neurorobotics. It is here that with simulated and real systems the feasibility of the conceptual models will first be tested. The systems consist of sensors for data acquisition, data-processing elements, and actuators to carry out operations.

"Our tests will show if the models' basic assumptions work," says Professor Alois Knoll, Chair for Real-time Systems and Robotics at TUM. "Then other groups in the project will use our test results to refine their models."

The Neurorobotics sub-project builds on the internationally recognized expertise in robotics research at the university. In the domain of neuroscience as well, TUM has already proven its research strength through successful participation in the Cluster of Excellence SyNergy (Munich Cluster for Systems Neurology). The new research groups will reside at the TUM-affiliated institute FORTISS.

"That we, with our partners in the Human Brain Project, could prevail in such a hard international competition is a clear affirmation of our strategy of cross-linking and integrating scientific disciplines," says TUM President Wolfgang A. Herrmann.

Worldwide Network for Brain Research

Federating more than 80 European and international research institutions and some important North American and Japanese partners, the Human Brain Project is planned to last ten years (2013-2023).

The cost is estimated at 1.19 billion euros ($1.6 USD). It will be coordinated at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, by neuroscientist Henry Markram.

In the coming months, the partners will negotiate a detailed agreement with the European Community for the initial first two and a half year ramp-up phase. The project will begin work in the closing months of 2013.

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