Human Brain Project
The Human Brain Project (HBP) is a large scientific research project, directed by the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne and largely funded by the European Union, which aims to simulate the complete human brain on supercomputers to better understand how it functions. The project is based in Geneva, Switzerland.
Among other goals, the project aims to build a full computer model of a functioning brain to simulate drug treatments.
- Brain simulation
- High-performance computing
- Medical informatics
- Neuromorphic computing
Organisation and funding
The Human Brain Project is directed by the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (neuronal stimulation) and co-directed by the University of Heidelberg (computer), the University Hospital of Lausanne and the University of Lausanne (medical).
The project involves hundreds of researchers, from 135 partner institutions in 26 countries.
Its total costs are estimated at 1.190 billion €, of which 555 million would go to personnel, to compensate 7148 person-years of effort. It is funded by the European Commission through its Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) Flagship grant. 86 institutions across Europe are now involved and will receive one billion euro in funding over ten years.
The primary hurdle in the project is the unsystematic nature of the information collected from previous brain research. Neurological research data varies by biological organization schemes, species studied, and by developmental stages, making it difficult to collectively use the data to replicate the brain in a model that acts as a single system.
Other obstacles include engineering problems involving power consumption, memory, and storage.
Technologies generated by the Human Brain Project and other similar projects offer several possibilities to other fields of research. The project will create a better understanding of the human brain and its functions, as well as facilitate medical research related to healing and brain development.For instance, the brain model can be used to investigate disease signatures and the impact of certain drugs, leading to better (and earlier) diagnostic and treatment methods. Ultimately, these developments will lead to more advanced medical options available to patients at a lower cost.
Design of the artificial human brain will also lead to developments in the engineering of computer chips and in developing new supercomputing and energy-efficiency techniques modeled with the human brain as an example. The project's platforms include those on Neurorobotics, Neuromorphic Computing, and High Performance Computing. Computational developments can be extended into realms such as data mining, telecommunications, appliances, and other industrial uses.
It is also crucial to note the long-term ethical consequences of such a project. The project follows a policy of Responsible Innovation. The Ethics and Society Programme, with subcommittees Ethical, Legal and Social Aspects Committee (ELSA) and Research Ethics Committee (REC), is responsible for monitoring the use of human volunteers, animal subjects, and the data collected. Implications on European society, industry, and economy are to be investigated by the programme's Foresight Lab.
- Artificial brain
- BigBrain, high-resolution three-dimensional atlas of the human brain created as part of the Human Brain Project
- Blue Brain Project
- Blue Gene
- Computational neuroscience
- List of topics related to brain mapping
- Simulated reality
- Human Genome Project
Notes and references
- (French) Dejan Nikolic, "Genève récupère le Human Brain Project, au détriment de Lausanne", Le Temps, Wednesday 30 October 2013, p. 7.
- "Human Brain Project relocates to Geneva". SwissInfo. 29 October 2013. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
- "HBP Strategic Objectives".
- "The HBP Report". The Human Brain Project. April 2012.
- "European projects to model human brain, explore graphene win up to €1 B each". The Washington Post. 2013-01-28.
- "A Report to the European Commission" The Human Brain Project.
- "How to build a human brain".
- Human Brain Project-Ethics and Society.