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Scientists Digitally Recreate Rat Brain

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Simulation of electrical activity in a “virtual brain slice” formed from seven unitary digital reconstructions of neocortical microcircuits from part of a rat’s brain.

A group of international scientists have digitally recreated a part of a rat’s brain using supercomputers.

The accomplishment can lead to infinite possibilities, including the reconstruction of the human brain.

What the researchers achieved was the first draft of a functioning map of 30,000 brain cells connected to one another by 40 million synapses, said a scientist on the team.

The achievement, said the same researcher, was not yet proof that scientists could indeed reconstruct the human brain, which contains 85 billion or more neurons, but that it was a first step.

Another researcher on the team said the “simulations are in their infancy,” and therefore what this means for the larger goals of reconstructing a whole brain is unclear.

“They built a 747, and it’s taxiing around the runway,” said Cori Bargmann, the co-director of the new Kavli Neural Systems Institute at Rockefeller University. “I haven’t seen it fly yet, but it’s promising.”

The study is the first major achievement of the one-billion-dollar Blue Brain Project, a 10-year European research program formed in 2005 with a goal to build a virtual simulation of the human brain.


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