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Brain curiosities

Experts hope that the structure of the brain to enable the construction of new powerful computers, but also further our understanding of the brain.

The international team of scientists in Europe has created a silicon chip that functions like a human brain. With 200,000 neurons linked up by 50 million synaptic connections, the chip mimics the human ability to learn more closely than any other machine. Although there are only a fraction of the total average number of neurons of the brains design allows for an upgrade, says project coordinator Facets (Fast Analog Computing with Emergent Transient States) physicist Karlheinz Meier of the University of Heidelberg. Experts hope that the structure of the brain to enable the construction of new powerful computers, but also further our understanding of the brain. Scientists had previously tried to simulate the functioning of the nervous system. One such project is the Swiss Blu Brain has been using vast databases of biological data to the IBM Supercomputer realistic simulation of the brain. However, facetss team claims that he does not want to create a simulated neurons but that will take place the same electrical activity as in real biological cells. A neuron circuit typically consists of hundreds of components, while a synapse requires only about twenty. But since they have a lot more, they occupy most of the system. According to the Heidelberg team the advantage of the hardware approach is the fact that it can faithfully copy-like structures in the brain. This prototype also can operate about 100,000 times faster than the human brain. We can simulate a day in one second, says Karlheinz. Researcher at MIT Thomas Serre points out that neurons are actually very slow compared to computers. Computers seem much slower than the brain because they are serial machines, while our brains are parallel machines. Scientists however, acknowledge that the project has certain limitations. Namely, in this artificial brain can be simulated, several conditions in which the brain acts like effects of drugs on perception. In the next phase of Facetss team plans to create supercip with a billion neurons and 10 13 synapses.

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