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Cajal Blue Brain: Brain molecular simulation

The project Blue Brain aims to molecular level simulation brain of mammals. In this first article outlines the main ideas and actors involved in the project.

This initiative, supported by Big Blue (IBM) Spain takes the form of the so-called Cajal Blue Brain (in honor of our scientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal).

Involves different agencies such as the Cajal Institute and universities as UPM ( coordinating the project and brings supercomputing center CesViMa for your super computer simulation Margerit), the URJC (taking responsibility for developing advanced display systems) , and Castilla-La Mancha.

Internationally today integrates researchers from the Universities of Jerusalem, Reno (Nevada), Yale and London.

In the first phase of the project has developed a model that simulates a cortical column (can be considered the functional unit lower top system) the neocortex a rat.

The reason for simulating the rat cortical column is purely operational; while in humans in that space 2 height mm 0.5 in diameter are found to 60.000 neurons, in the rat was reduced to 10.000 contributing an advantage when simulating the system.

The column is divided into six different layers, which are found in various types of cells that are connected in the same or different layer with one another by what is known by Sinapis neuronales. It is estimated that can find each 100 million interconnections in this small space of the mammalian brain.

As can be seen, is a computationally issue an order of substantial size. Currently trying to find, Thanks to this experience, analysis methodologies that will address in the near future the analysis of brain microcircuits.

These microcircuits or brain response patterns serve to clarify the mechanisms thereof and, from that knowledge to find solutions to diseases and new paradigms of computer programming.

The project is open to researchers from different disciplines to address transversely, contributing their knowledge in this arduous task. Just as an example some areas of performance that are detected immediately cited.

  • Image Recognition. From images obtained with different techniques (Electron microscopy, confocal…) Samples obtained from tissue sections. The collection and classification of three-dimensional structures that represent is called segmentation.
  • Artificial intelligence. The classification of morphologies of neurons is an unresolved. Different laboratories neurons obtained geometries contrast techniques. Their classification based on its shape and electrical and functional properties is another new area.
  • Electrical Engineering. Determine functional structures that are repeated to form neural circuits is one of the priority objectives of the project. Understand the operation of a cortical column can give fundamental keys to understanding the overall functioning.
  • Scientific visualization. Manipulate and interpret the data volume of the project is a task that requires the development of advanced applications that connect digital visualization techniques and systems geometric graph models adapted.

There are more areas involved that can be detailed more fully, but the purpose of this article aims to provide a quick overview of the objectives escapes, dimensions of the project and interest.

Here you can see different videos to the project partners.


“© Cajal Blue Brain – UPM / © Blue Brain Project – EPFL”