European 10 year $1.6B Human Brain Project kicks into high gear
A global group of scientists are spending the next ten years and a billion dollars to try and develop a computer simulation of the brain.
The Human Brain Project (HBP) is the neuroscience equivalent of the Human Genome Project. The European Union-funded initiative aims to gain a deeper understanding of the human brain by developing technology capable of mapping its complicated functions and by centralizing neuroscience research into one database.
“Neuroscience is generating exponentially growing volumes of data and knowledge on specific aspects of the healthy and diseased brain, in different species, at different ages,” the HBP’s site said. “However, we still do not have effective strategies to experimentally map the brain across all its levels and functions. Modern supercomputing technology offers a solution, making it possible to integrate the data in detailed computer reconstructed models and simulations of the brain.”
Analyzing this data could make it possible to make learn more about brain diseases, map neurological disorders, and identify patterns and biological predictors. Doctors and researches could then use computer simulations to make medical predictions and perform experiments that can’t be done with animals or humans.
A recent RAND Corporation study found that the cost of caring for patients with dementia in the U.S. is already as expensive as treating cancer or heart disease, and the cost is expected to double by 2040. Yet, the attention and resources allocated to brain health and mental well-being are significantly lower than other areas of medical scientific research.
The HBP is also designed to further computing, in addition to neuroscience and medicine.