Building a brain from scratch

For 10 years, scientists with the Blue Brain Project at Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Federale have been trying to reverse-engineer a rat’s brain and build one themselves. Now they finally have a rough draft.

The group made a digital replication of a portion of a rat’s neocortex, the part of the brain that controls sensory perception, motor activity and conscious thought. After years of experiments, the team has been able to model a slice of brain with more than 31,000 brain cells, 55 layers of cells and 207 different cell types. 

Perhaps even more important, the model reflects the way the cells interconnect — as many as 2,000 connections between each type of brain cell.     TJ  

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