Thanks to this colossal European project, we know much more about the human brain.

Digital image of the human brain of artificial intelligence.
Andrey Onufrienko/Getty Images Digital image of the human brain of artificial intelligence.

Andrey Onufrienko/Getty Images

A test simulating the brains of 356 French patients has made it possible to understand the nature of epileptic seizures.

BRAIN – This is one of the largest research projects ever funded by the European Union. The Human Brain Project (HBP), which brought together about 500 scientists and aimed to understand the human brain by simulating it on a computer, will end in September. After a decade of research and investment of 600 million euros, the European program has made significant advances in the fields of health and neuroscience.

The aim of BPH was to understand the functioning of the brain and the diseases that can affect it by running a complete simulation of the human brain on a computer. After ten years of research, scientists were only able to reproduce ” brain pieces According to CNRS cognitive science researcher Yves Frenjak, in an interview Nature. That’s why a scientific journal talks about the failure of the original goal of the HBP program, while acknowledging that it was disproportionate.

“Google Maps” of the brain

However, scientists have been able to visualize the organization of brain cells as a whole using ” 3D maps, fundamental progress in the understanding of diseases that affect the brain. “Atlas of the Human Brain is a bit like Google Brain Maps”– summarizes Katrin Amunts, director of scientific research of the project, – Nature.

So, in 2019, scientists conducted a test on 356 patients in eleven hospitals in France to see if modeling the brain of patients can reveal the cause of epileptic seizures. The test passed with great success. Since then, human brain mapping has been used to create personalized models of the brains of patients with Parkinson’s disease or epilepsy.

Advances in understanding neurons have also enabled the development of artificial neural systems that can be used to control robots or smartphones.

Over 2500 publications

If scientists fail “towards the original goal, which was to create a computer model of the brain”their research nevertheless made it possible to leave “a legacy of valuable knowledge for the research community”recognized according to EchoKatrin Amunz, HBP’s scientific director, at the project’s final summit last April.

Indeed, the researchers left behind almost 2,500 publications testifying to their discoveries. For example, in addition to medical advances, scientists have found that our most bizarre dreams help our brains learn by drawing general concepts from our recent experiences.

These various achievements are significant enough that the supervisor has requested an additional budget to continue research. “This is a race of the same nature as the one that allowed man to set foot on the moon”says Katrin Amunts.

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