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Author: admin, 30.04.2014. Category: The Power Of Attraction

Slideshare uses cookies to improve functionality and performance, and to provide you with relevant advertising. The Blue Brain Project is an attempt to create a synthetic brain by reverse-engineering the mammalian brain down to the molecular level. The Blue Brain Project is the first comprehensive attempt to reverse-engineer the mammalian brain, in order to understand brain function and dysfunction through detailed simulations.
One of the greatest challenges in neuroscience is to identify the map of synaptic connections between neurons.
A longstanding neuroscientific mystery has been whether all the neurons grow independently and just take what they get as their branches bump into each other, or are the branches of each neuron specifically guided by chemical signals to find all its target.
This means that neurons grow as independently of each other as physically possible and mostly form synapses at the locations where they randomly bump into each other. The goal of the BBP is to integrate knowledge from all the specialised branches of neuroscience, to derive from it the fundamental principles that govern brain structure and function, and ultimately, to reconstruct the brains of different species a€“ including the human brain a€“ in silico. To achieve these results, a team from the Blue Brain Project set about virtually reconstructing a cortical microcircuit based on unparalleled data about the geometrical and electrical properties of neuronsa€”data from over nearly 20 years of painstaking experimentation on slices of living brain tissue. This discovery also explains why the brain can withstand damage and indicates that the positions of synapses in all brains of the same species are more similar than different.
They went on to discover that the synapses positions are only robust as long as the morphology of each neuron is slightly different from each other, explaining another mystery in the brain a€“ why neurons are not all identical in shape.
Overall this work represents a major acceleration in the ability to construct detailed models of the nervous system. Gardeners know that some trees require regular pruning: some of their branches have to be cut so that others can grow stronger. Like a gardener who stakes some plants and weeds out others, the brain is constantly building networks of synapses, while pruning out redundant or unneeded synapses.
A new study suggests an intriguing strategy to boost memory for what you've just learned: hit the gym four hours later. Pleasant and unpleasant odors are a part of everyone's life, but how do our reactions to smells change when other odors are present? The ability to understand and empathize with others' pain is grounded in cognitive neural processes rather than sensory ones, according to the results of a new study led by University of Colorado Boulder researchers.
The macaw has a brain the size of an unshelled walnut, while the macaque monkey has a brain about the size of a lemon. Henry Markram’s controversial proposal for the Human Brain Project (HBP) — an effort to build a supercomputer simulation that integrates everything known about the human brain, from the structures of ion channels in neural cell membranes up to mechanisms behind conscious decision-making — may soon fulfill his ambition. The project is one of six finalists vying to win €1 billion (US$1.3 billion) as one of the European Union’s two new decade-long Flagship initiatives. The HBP would integrate these discoveries, he said, and create models to explore how neural circuits are organized, and how they give rise to behavior and cognition.
The computer power required to run such a grand unified theory of the brain: roughly an exaflop, or 1018 operations per second, to be available in exascale computers by the 2020s. So far, his team at he Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) has simulated 100 interconnected columns. Once you start building a brain in a box you get two things: admission into the Mad Scientists’ Club, and a chance to speak at TED. Nomad planets don't circle stars, but may carry bacterial life, say researchers from Kavli Institute. Our galaxy may be awash in homeless planets, wandering through space instead of orbiting a star. If observations confirm the estimate, this new class of celestial objects will affect current theories of planet formation and could change our understanding of the origin and abundance of life. The Director of NASA’s Ames Center, Pete Worden has announced an initiative to move space flight to the next level. Worden also has expressed his belief that the space agency was now directed toward settling other planets. The Ames Director went on to expound how these efforts will seek to emulate the fictional starships seen on the television show Star Trek.
I'm very circumspect that you cannot maintain enough efficiency for long enough to make that method worthwhile. The SKA Site Advisory Committee's decision was first reported on March 10 in the Sydney Morning Herald. The $2.1-billion SKA radio telescope will be made up of some 3,000 dishes, each 15 meters in diameter. Since 2006, South Africa has competed against a joint bid from Australia and New Zealand to host the project. Members of the SKA's board will meet on March 19 in Manchester, UK, to discuss the scientific panel's recommendations.
According to Nature's source, because the two sites are so close in merit, both are still in contention.
A final site decision could come as soon as April 4, when a meeting of the board is tentatively scheduled in Amsterdam. During London Technology Week Sean Hill, a co-director of the Human Brain Project (a European brain initiative with €1.2 billion in funding), spoke on this and how this new data-driven collaboration planned to tackle this. A 10-year initiative launched in October of 2013, the Human Brain Project (HBP) comprises a consortium of 256 researchers. Building this virtual brain, however, will be no easy task and running it will mean rethinking our current understanding of computers. Building the human brain, of course, is only part of the mammoth scale of innovation this project hopes to accomplish. This project builds on the Blue Brain Project, which created a simulation of the neocortical column, incorporating detailed representations of 30,000 neurons. Simulating the human brain would require yet another 1,000-fold increase in memory and computational power. To do this, they are working with IBM to build a  neuromorphic computing system (see video below)—and aim to have this ready by 2023.
As you might have noticed this new initiative is more of a data integration and infrastructure project than a data generation project.

Unlike in genomics where data output tends to be fairly standardised due to the limited number of platforms and thus resulting data types, the neurosciences have operated at a much more specialized, community-driven level, using their own tools and platforms. The current publishing model will need to evolve from one based on quantity and proprietorship to one based on quality and reusability. The Human Brain Project is one of the few initiatives pointing to a new way of doing science: A science in which data as a default will adhere to the appropriate standards to make it reusable. Scientists at EPFL, KAUST and UCL have created the first computer model of the metabolic coupling between neuron and glia, an essential feature of brain function. A team led by Pierre Magistretti (EPFL, KAUST), working with Renaud Jolivet (University College London), has now developed a detailed computer model that accurately captures the dynamics of this relationship. The model has now confirmed in quantitative terms that lactate flows from astrocytes to neurons. A better understanding of the metabolic relationships between neurons and glia has also important implications for understanding the signals detected with functional brain imaging techniques, such as fMRI and PET, which monitor glucose utilization, blood flow or oxygen consumption changes that occur in register with neuronal activity.
This work represents a collaboration of EPFL with the University College London, and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). Multi-timescale Modeling of Activity-Dependent Metabolic Coupling in the Neuron-Glia-Vasculature Ensemble.
The aim of the project, founded in May 2005 by the Brain and Mind Institute of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, is to study the brain's architectural and functional principles.
This could lead to a much greater understanding of how our brain processes information, and could push research into brain disorders into startling discoveries. Called the "connectome," it is the holy grail that will explain how information flows in the brain.
To solve the mystery, researchers looked in a virtual reconstruction of a cortical microcircuit to see where the branches bumped into each other. A few exceptions were also discovered pointing out special cases where signals are used by neurons to change the statistical connectivity. The current paper provides yet another proof-of-concept for the approach, by demonstrating for the first time that the distribution of synapses or neuronal connections in the mammalian cortex can, to a large extent, be predicted. Each neuron in the circuit was reconstructed into a 3D model on a powerful Blue Gene supercomputer. The results provide important insights into the basic principles that govern the wiring of the nervous system, throwing light on how robust cortical circuits are constructed from highly diverse populations of neurons a€“ an essential step towards understanding how the brain functions. Because this electric wire is connected with various joints (synapse), various brain functions can occur.
This attractive steady state is adaptively evolved via the epigenetic effects of nutrient chemicals and pheromones on ecological, social, neurogenic, and socio-cognitive niche construction as exemplified in the honeybee model organism which I used to show that "Olfaction and odor receptors provide a clear evolutionary trail that can be followed from unicellular organisms to insects to humans."Isn't finding the "holy grail" that explains how information flows in the brain dependent on first recognizing how the epigenetic effects of nutrient chemicals and pheromones transfer information from the sensory environment via receptor-mediated events that alter intracellular signaling and stochastic gene expression during adaptive evolution? Ultimately, said Markram, the HBP would even help researchers to grapple with disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Henry Markram is the director of the Blue Brain Project, a collaboration between European scientists and IBM that aims to construct a life-like simulation of a brain using a supercomputer.
This plan, dubbed the “Hundred Year Starship,” has received $100,000 from NASA and $ 1 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). However, given the fact that the agency has been redirected toward supporting commercial space firms, how this will be achieved has yet to be detailed.
He stated that the public could expect to see the first prototype of a new propulsion system within the next few years. This form of propulsion would eliminate the massive amount of fuel required to send crafts into orbit.
But the project's member states have yet to make a final decision on where the telescope will go. A source familiar with the site-selection process confirmed to Nature that the panel had indeed made a decision, but added that it was a close call. The project will try to answer big questions about the early universe: how the first elements heavier than helium formed, for example, and how the first galaxies coalesced.
The South African site has some compelling advantages: construction costs are lower, and it sits at a higher altitude.
The closed meeting will also provide the two bidders with the opportunity to contest any of the panel's recommendations.
China, Italy, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands—the SKA voting board members—could yet decide either way. With new techniques to measure the brain and brain activity (fMRI, EEG, etc) gaining momentum, in the neurosciences tremendous amounts of data are now being generated.
The project’s aim is to build, and maintain iteratively, a simulation of the human brain in silico, on a supercomputer, as a resource mapping every neuron and how they connect to one another.
To get some perspective, a similar simulation of a whole brain rat model would include around 200 million neurons, requiring around 10,000 times more memory. In addition, the creation of virtual instruments (virtual fMRIs, etc) and subcellular modelling would require further computational power (see figure). To build this, the project will largely have to take from the data already out there—and there’s lots out there.
In the clinical setting, increasingly it is becoming apparent that one treatment does not fit all.
Open data efforts are, however, starting to emerge through organisations such as the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility (INCF). According to Hill, the neurosciences will have to become an open data endeavour in order to validate future work. While there has recently been some criticism of the project and whether we are indeed ready to build a whole-brain simulation, if successful, the project will put in place tools that will help us to know where to look next and which research questions to prioritise. It did a great job in the past, but due to difficulties in getting funded it has not been available for over a year. Confirming previous experimental data, the model is now being integrated into the brain modeling efforts developed by the Blue Brain Project. However, given the brain’s structure and metabolic constraints, the way it achieves this efficiency is a mystery. Over half of the brain is actually composed by glial cells, which support and insulate neurons, supply them with energy substrates, protect them from pathogens and even clear out dead neurons from the brain.

Specifically, the model shows how glucose is shuttled between the three elements of the unit to produce energy for activated neurons. However, some theoretical studies have proposed that lactate could go the other way – from neurons to astrocytes.
It is also the first such model to successfully simulate the actual timeframe of this process, a breakthrough that provides a measurable picture of how neurons and glial cells tightly coordinate brain energy metabolism.
In a landmark paper, published the week of 17th of September in PNAS, the EPFL's Blue Brain Project (BBP) has identified key principles that determine synapse-scale connectivity by virtually reconstructing a cortical microcircuit and comparing it to a mammalian sample.
To their great surprise, they found that the locations on the model matched that of synapses found in the equivalent real-brain circuit with an accuracy ranging from 75 percent to 95 percent. By taking these exceptions into account, the Blue Brain team can now make a near perfect prediction of the locations of all the synapses formed inside the circuit. About 10,000 of virtual neurons were packed into a 3D space in random positions according to the density and ratio of morphological types found in corresponding living tissue. Earlier it was recognized that the mind is embodied, signal processing is taking place remotely and by patterns rather than algorithms. Given that NASA’s FY 2011 Budget has had to be revised and has yet to go through Appropriations, this time estimate may be overly-optimistic.
But the Australian site would be cheaper to insure, and is less likely to be encroached on by future development. After the meeting, the SKA's board will write a commentary to accompany the recommendation, which will inform the final decision. It is even possible that the array could be shared between both nations, although this would probably increase the construction costs.
At present it is impossible to observe activity within a small group of neurons while simultaneously observing the activity of the entire brain (via imaging technology). Mapping these pathways out will be impossible without being able to identify principles in order to predict the rest.
Traditional computers work through programs (or sets of instructions) and a hierarchy of storage elements telling them what to do in what order and where to find and put things.
The way science is published to date, however, will be one of this project’s largest stumbling blocks. We will therefore need more personalized treatment to combat some of the most difficult diseases of the mind. Indeed, using predictive modelling to build this virtual brain, the project will need to validate itself through detailed documentation itself of methods and through collaboration and reuse or testing of its findings.
Hill pointed to a scoring system that could reward organizations that open up their data to the scientific community with more grant money. Regardless, it has helped to start a discussion on the very need for more open data and better data infrastructure in the neurosciences. I’m sure INCF acknowledges the important role fMRIDC played in the early years of datasharing, but I doubt it is recommending it right not (since fMRIDC has not been accepting submission for quite a while).
The model, published in PLOS Computational Biology, is now being integrated into the detailed brain model of the Blue Brain Project.
The key is the little-understood relationship between neurons, blood vessels and the other cells of the brain, the glia.
These principles now make it possible to predict the locations of synapses in the neocortex. The researchers then compared the model back to an equivalent brain circuit from a real mammalian brain.
Either a laser or microwave emitter would heat the propellant, thus sending the vehicle aloft. To integrate the current data on the brain, more methodological detail on how that data was generated will be needed than what currently constitutes the norm in scientific publishing. Data Notes, or short articles specifically focused on the validation of data and its reusability, have also proven a successful open data incentive for our journal GigaScience. When we learn how to emulate a body with brain by hardware & software synthesis, we can start the larger project to emulate the hardware on software. This technology has been around for some time, but has yet to be actually applied in a real-world vehicle.
It would also mean the opportunity to replicate previous in vivo experiments as well as provide a better understanding of the way drugs act on the brain. A study by Hill et al in PNAS in 2012 comparing statistical structural connectivity with functional synaptic connectivity provides evidence that for most connection pathways the position for synapses is about the same in vitro and in silico.
In contrast to this, a neuromorphic computing system aims to operate like the brain—relying on its ability to learn rather than run through a set of instructions or programs. In depth knowledge of the experimental protocols, measuring devices, parameters, and so on used to generate the data will be needed to know which data can be reused in building this virtual brain.
Partly for funding reasons, partly because the major findings are not replicable, making the field very risky. Hill himself called for a new publishing model, pointing to a future of “living review articles” built using working ontologies (allowing for semantic search of data). This outlet allows for the peer-review of data and thus its validation as well as credit for data through citation.
Because the human brain is the most difficult organism from which to extract data, much of this prediction will be based on the mouse brain. According to the HBP, “Their architecture will not be generic—it will be based on the actual cognitive architectures we find in the brain—which are finely optimised for specific tasks.
One strand of the project is to generate strategic multi-level data for humans that parallels the data collected for mouse and facilitate the use of mouse data to predict human data.

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