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Blue Brain Project
IBM & Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
Project Description:
IBM and Switzerland-based Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne are working on a joint initiative using the huge computational capacity of IBM's eServer Blue Gene supercomputer to create a detailed model of the circuitry in the neocortex - the largest and most complex part of the human brain, which is believed to be the center for higher cognitive functions. It is also the portion of the brain that evolved most recently and that is unique to mammals.

By expanding the project to model other areas of the brain, scientists hope to eventually build an accurate, computer-based model of the entire brain. On its Web site, IBM notes that researchers can learn more about the morphology of the neocortex by inserting blue dye into each neuron.

The neocortex is organized into six layers and thousands of columns. The first image shows a fraction of the cells and connections within the neocortex's microcircuitry. The second image illustrates the pyramidal neurons, which make up 80 percent of the neurons in the neocortex.

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