A 10-year, £1 billion (€1.2 billion/$1.6 billion) project to completely revolutionize the way we understand and interpret the human brain began today in Switzerland.

Human Brain 2 One billion pound project to simulate an entire human brain in a supercomputer begins

The 135-member team of the Human Brain Project (HPB) met today in Switzerland to kick off an enormous neuroscience project which will eventually result in a complete computer simulation of the human brain on a powerful supercomputer. This project is considered by far to be the most advanced neuroscience project in the world.

The project consists of 135 institutions mostly based in Europe, and is ‘an attempt to build completely new computer science technology that will enable us to collect all the information we have built up about the brain over the years.’

‘We should begin to understand what makes the human brain unique, the basic mechanisms behind cognition and behaviour, how to objectively diagnose brain diseases, and to build new technologies inspired by how the brain computes,’ continued Prof Henry Markram of the HBP.

On the outset of this ambitious project, the scientists say they are fully aware of the current limitations of computer power. Even the most powerful supercomputers in the world do not nearly match the computing power of a single human brain, but estimates based on technological trend indicate that within a decade computers should become sufficiently powerful and efficient to run a draft simulation.

The key aims of the project are to discover more about how the brain works and how to prevent and cure brain conditions. It seems ambitious, but the HPB team are absolutely sure that their 10-year deadline will be enough to revolutionize our understanding of the brain.

Sources: BBC, the Human Brain Project