Neuroscience


World's largest supercomputer is being switched on for the first time

Daily Mail

The world's largest supercomputer which can complete more than 200 million million actions per second has been switched on for the first time. The £15 million ($19.5 million) computer, which is designed and built to work like a human brain, had its landmark one-millionth processor core fitted this week. Dubbed the SpiNNaker machine, it can model more neurons in real time than any other machine on the planet. The supercomputer will help scientists better understand how neurological diseases like Parkinson's impact the brain. The world's largest supercomputer (pictured) which can complete more than 200 million million actions per second has been switched on for the first time Researchers at the University of Manchester spent more than 10 years constructing SpiNNaker.


'Human brain' supercomputer switched on to unlock secrets of the mind

The Independent

After 12 years of construction and £15m in funding, a giant computer designed to mimic the human brain is finally ready to be switched on. Built by the University of Manchester, the SpiNNaker machine is made up of one million processors capable of 200 trillion actions per second – meaning it can model more biological neurons in real time than any other machine ever built. Unlike traditional computers, it does not communicate by sending large amounts of information from point A to point B via a standard network. Instead, it mimics the parallel communication architecture of the brain by sending small amounts of information to different destinations simultaneously. The I.F.O. is fuelled by eight electric engines, which is able to push the flying object to an estimated top speed of about 120mph.


Neuroscientists gain new insights through innovation

MIT News

Some of the new techniques that Tsai and hundreds of colleagues worldwide are adopting include methods of preserving, optically clearing, labeling, and enlarging brain tissue that were invented by the symposium's host, Kwanghun Chung, assistant professor in the Picower Institute, the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science and the Department of Chemical Engineering. At the symposium, Chung revealed that he is leading a new five-year project funded by the National Institutes of Health to map the entire human brain at unprecedented scales of detail, ranging from the circuits spanning distant regions down to individual synapses where neurons connect. The collaboration will take advantage of many of the rich suite of technologies his lab has developed. In recent work, Chung said, he's also been applying the techniques to trace the circuits connecting brain regions that are key to deep-brain stimulation (a Parkinson's disease treatment) and to illuminate differences between models of the autism-like condition Rett syndrome and healthy controls. Advanced tissue processing, though, is just one category of ways that neuroscientists are getting a better look at the brain.


New Theory of Intelligence May Disrupt AI and Neuroscience

#artificialintelligence

Recent advancement in artificial intelligence, namely in deep learning, has borrowed concepts from the human brain. The architecture of most deep learning models is based on layers of processing– an artificial neural network that is inspired by the neurons of the biological brain. Yet neuroscientists do not agree on exactly what intelligence is, and how it is formed in the human brain -- it's a phenomena that remains unexplained. Technologist, scientist, and co-founder of Numenta, Jeff Hawkins, presented an innovative framework for understanding how the human neocortex operates, called "The Thousand Brains Theory of Intelligence," at the Human Brain Project Summit in Maaastricht, the Netherlands, in October 2018. The neocortex is the part of the human brain that is involved in higher-order functions such as conscious thought, spatial reasoning, language, generation of motor commands, and sensory perception.


Artificial intelligence may erode humans' ability to think critically

#artificialintelligence

The context: Kissinger is referring to artificial general intelligence, a future form of AI that would be capable of human-like thought in a variety of fields. That's very different from today's AI: algorithms that perform narrow tasks like identifying images and operating self-driving cars. The big picture: I spoke with a half-dozen people from different fields about the essay. Some found it hard to fathom given how far AI is from general intelligence. Others, however, agreed with Kissinger's central thesis.


Scientists may be soon be able to grow replicas of human brains in a lab

Daily Mail

Scientists may soon be able to create human brains in a lab, according to the latest research. For the first time scientists have successfully grown a 3D model of the brain using human cells, allowing them to better study abnormal brain activity. Experts have been culturing brain tissue for years but this technique uses functional neutral tissue to create'brain-like organoids'. Researchers say in the future they could use cells from patients with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's to understand how they will respond to certain treatments. Scientists have successfully grown a 3D model of the brain from human neurons, providing them with a better opportunity to study abnormal brain cells.


Boeing creates unit to focus on super-computing that mimics the brain, hack-proof communications

The Japan Times

CHICAGO – Boeing Co. is creating a new unit to focus on technology that's seemingly straight out of science fiction, including super-fast computing that mimics the synapses of the human brain and hack-proof communications links based on applied quantum physics. So-called neuromorphic processing and quantum communications, two of the futuristic technologies Boeing wants to explore, may seem an odd fit for the world's largest plane-maker. But such concepts increasingly form the core of aerospace innovation, like the networks that may one day manage millions of airborne drones, said Greg Hyslop, Boeing's chief technology officer. The technology being developed around advanced computing and sensors is going to have a "profound impact" on Boeing, Hyslop said in an interview Wednesday. "We thought it's time to do this."


You really CAN follow your nose: People with a good sense of smell are better at navigation

Daily Mail

When asking for directions, you should look for someone with a good sense of smell. That is the advice of scientists who have found that people with a naturally good sense of direction also have a heightened ability to detect faint odours. Brain scans revealed two specific regions of the brain that are heavily involved in the control of both skills. Veronique Bohbot from McGill University in Canada led a team of scientists to determine if there was a link between the two very different traits. A group of 57 volunteers participated in an experiment which assessed the proficiency of their nose as well as their sense of direction.


A long-overlooked brain region may be key to complex thought

#artificialintelligence

The ornately folded outer layer of the human brain, the cerebral cortex, has long received nearly all the credit for our ability to perform complex cognitive tasks such as composing a sonata, imagining the plot of a novel or reflecting on our own thoughts. One explanation for how we got these abilities is that the cortex rapidly expanded relative to body size as primates evolved -- the human cortex has 10 times the surface area of a monkey's cortex, for example, and 1,000 times that of a mouse. But the cortex is not the only brain region that has gotten bigger and more complex throughout evolution. Nestled beneath the cortex, a pair of egg-shaped structures called the thalamus has also grown, and its wiring became much more intricate as mammals diverged from reptiles. The thalamus -- from the Greek thalamos, or inner chamber -- transmits 98 percent of sensory information to the cortex, including vision, taste, touch and balance; the only sense that doesn't pass through this brain region is smell.


Your brain circuits determine your parenting style, study finds

Daily Mail

A new study has found that neural circuits in the brain may play a role in determining how a parent will take care of their children - at least, if you're a mouse. Researchers activated different portions of neurons in an area of the brain and found that different subsets caused the mice to groom, interact and engage in other behaviors with their pups. It's unclear whether the same circuit exists in other mammals, but the scientists say it still serves as an interesting case study for humans. A new study has found that neural circuits in the brain may play a role in determining how a parent will take care of their children - at least, if you're a mouse The study was published Thursday in the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Researchers from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Harvard University specifically looked at a small cluster of neurons in the media preoptic area (MPOA) of the brain.