Human Brain Project Faces Growing Skepticism from Neuroscientists

July 7, 2014 5:18 PM

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July 7, 2014 | This morning, the European Commission received an open letter signed by 154 European neuroscientists, expressing concern over the direction of the Human Brain Project (HBP) that was launched last year. The European Commission has committed an estimated €1.19 billion ($1.62 billion) over the next 10 years to the project, which currently involves 113 partner organizations and further outside collaborators, and is directed by Henry Markram of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. The central aim of the HBP is to create a computer simulation of the human brain, complete with tens of trillions of synaptic connections between tens of billions of neurons, each with its own pattern of genetic and electrical activity. The European Commission is currently discussing how to distribute the next round of HBP funding, which will include approximately $68 million for the "core project" and a similar amount for related research.

It is this funding round that has prompted the letter of concern, which criticizes the HBP for a perceived "lack of flexibility and openness," and more fundamentally, for not being "adequate to... further our understanding of the brain." All the neuroscientists who signed the letter have pledged not...

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