France – After 10 years of research, the 82 scientists covering the Blue Brain Project have achieved the simulation of a section of a rat’s brain, getting a step closer to building a completely functional computer model of the human brain.

The Blue Brain Project is a global initiative, part of the larger Human Brain Project, hosted by the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL). Its key objective is creating a software to build and simulate a digital reconstruction of the human brain. On October 8 the project presented a first draft of a reconstruction with over 31,000 neurons, 55 layers of cells, and 207 different neuron subtypes.

Representative rat brain showing a focal ischemic lesion within the right middle cerebral artery territory. Both medulla oblongata and bulbus olfactorius was dissected before the brain was carefully removed from the cranium. Credit:

“The reconstruction required an enormous number of experiments […] It paves the way for predicting the location, numbers, and even the amount of ion currents flowing through all 40 million synapses.” said Henry Markram, of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne to Eurek Alert.

Henry Markram, leads both projects, and stated that this first draft means nothing on the feasibility of the Human Brain Project’s objectives – as the human brain contains 85 billion or more neurons – but it sure is a first step.

To accomplish the task of building a digital version of a rat’s neocortex, researchers did not proceeded to record the details of every single cell, they used information from some to estimate how the others will be, then simulated certain brain activity and found out the reconstruction could be managed as a living tissue.

The report, was published in Cell scientific journal, and was granted one of the longest neuroscience reports ever.  Several neuroscientists declined to comment before the publication because of the time required to evaluate it fully. According to reports by EurekAlert, the Blue Brain Project researchers plan to continue exploring the state-dependent computational theory while improving the model they’ve built.

Source: The New York Times