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Scientists to shed light on the brain

University scientists are to take part in a 10-year project to better understand the human brain.

The European Commission has officially announced the selection of the Human Brain Project (HBP) as a flagship initiative, with 1.19 billion euros of funding.

More than 80 institutions from around Europe will take part in the project, beginning later this year.

Co-ordinating knowledge

The goal of the Human Brain Project is to pull together existing knowledge about the human brain 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 new computing and robotic technologies.

UK scientists will bring their world-leading expertise in neuroscience, medicine, computing and ethics to the Human Brain Project.

Modelling the brain

We will be deciphering the molecular structure of the human brain and mapping the circuits of nerve cells.

College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine

Professor Seth Grant of the University will lead molecular research in the project.

This will provide the foundation for supercomputer models of the human brain and the design of computer chips and robots.

Researchers hope to better understand the energy efficiency of the human brain.

They will seek to use this knowledge towards the development of biologically inspired computers.

Such devices could have a major impact on industry.

Understanding disease

Another major goal of the Human Brain Project is to generate tools and infrastructure for the research community and catalyse the development of new treatments for brain disease.

Clinicians involved with the project will study patients with brain diseases, which cost the European Union more than €800 billion each year.

The Human Brain Project will be coordinated by the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, with Heidelberg University, Germany, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois and the University of Lausanne.