Highlights and Achievements

HBP research has resulted in over 1200 journal publications to date, unique new research infrastructures, and high-level scientific events. Here we highlight some of them.

2020

A centerpiece of EBRAINS’ human brain atlas is presented in “Science” 

"Julich-Brain" is the name of the first 3D-atlas of the human brain that reflects the variability of the brain’s structure with microscopic resolution.

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EBRAINS Denmark to become the first regional EBRAINS subcommunity

An important first step towards creating a strong international EBRAINS Community has now been taken.

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Epilepsy: International researchers propose better seizure classification

An epilepsy model developed by the Human Brain Project provides the basis for the novel framework, which could also push forward basic understanding of the disease.

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New in EBRAINS: A map of 25,000 synapses in the hippocampus

A team of HBP scientists in Madrid have published detailed 3D-maps of around 25,000 synapses in the Human Hippocampus.

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Optimizing neural networks on a brain-inspired computer

New research now shows how so-called “critical states” can be used to optimize artificial neural networks running on brain-inspired neuromorphic hardware.

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New learning algorithm should significantly expand the possible applications of AI

The e-prop learning method forms the basis for drastically more energy-efficient hardware implementations of Artificial Intelligence.

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New approach for a biological programming language

Researchers have succeeded in mathematically modelling the emergence and interaction between so-called "assemblies".

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JUSUF – New Multi-purpose Computing Platform for Neuroscientists

In May 2020, the new JUSUF (Jülich Support for Fenix) system started operation in JSC’s data centre.

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Computational modeling predicts unsuspected complexity in the simplest cells of the brain

Collaborations within the Human Brain Project will implement the new cellular properties in large-scale models connected to neurorobots and neuromorphic computers.

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BigBrain 3D atlas of cortical layers: Cortical and laminar thickness gradients diverge in sensory and motor cortices

"We present the first whole-brain quantitative 3D laminar atlas of the human cerebral cortex."

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EBRAINS now a recommended data sharing service for Nature Scientific Data

EBRAINS services join the list of recommended repositories for neuroscience data.

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The microcircuits of striatum in silico

The basal ganglia play an important role in decision making and selection of action primarily based on input from cortex, thalamus, and the dopamine system.

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Fenix Resources for COVID-19 research

The Fenix Research Infrastructures are being made available to researchers and scientists working on topics related to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

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LOCALIZE-MI: an open source dataset of simultaneous intracerebral stimulation and HD-EEG in humans

The LOCALIZE-MI dataset constitutes the first open dataset that comprises EEG recorded electrical activity originating from precisely known locations inside the brain of living humans.

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Neuronal and neurotransmitter systems dynamic coupling explains the effects of psilocybin

Interest in research into the effects of psilocybin, a psychedelic drug, has increased significantly in recent years due to its promising therapeutic effects in neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety and addiction.

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New neuroscience method disentangles crossing fibers in brain tissue

Scientists at Forschungszentrum Jülich have now found that scattered light can be used to resolve the brain’s substructure like the crossing angles of the nerve fibers with micrometer resolution.

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“Noisy” Chips: Insights from Brain Research Offer Benefits for Neuromorphic Hardware

Neuromorphic chips modelled on the human brain have enormous potential, offering a promising and efficient alternative for artificial intelligence (AI) tasks in particular.

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HBP researchers in Spain identify neurons capable of coordinating functional networks in the brain

The team showed how single neurons, through extremely long  branched axonal connections to different areas of the brain can act as "coordinators" by selectively and flexibly combining the activity of different neuronal groups at each moment.

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German-Canadian collaboration boosts the HBP Brain Atlas

The trans-atlantic laboratory HIBALL will help connect brain mapping and AI initiatives in Canada and Europe.

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Dendrite Activity May Boost Brain Processing Power

Single human neurons may be much more powerful computational devices than once thought, according to a new study that identifies previously unknown electrical activity in neural dendrites.

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7th HBP Summit in Athens: The road to EBRAINS

Special emphasis this year was placed on the key steps taken to establish EBRAINS, the European Research Infrastructure for neuroscience.

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Greek President Pavlopoulos at the Human Brain Project Open Day

The project was honored by a visit and welcoming address from the President of the Hellenic Republic, H.E. Prof. Prokopis Pavlopoulos.

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Real-time cortical simulation on neuromorphic hardware

Researchers at the University of Manchester have conducted a real-time simulation of a large-scale biologically representative spiking neural network on SpiNNaker neuromorphic hardware.

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2019

Simulation-based method to target Epilepsy goes into clinical trial

In what represents a major milestone on the path to clinical application, a novel method to improve outcomes of Epilepsy surgery has now received approval for clinical testing in 13 French hospitals.

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The way of making memories

New study sheds light on how memories are formed and the ability of the nervous system to learn and adapt to changing conditions.

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A Coming Generation Of Robots Will Have More Human Hands

The Shadow Robot Company designs and develops highly dexterous robotic hands that are as realistic as possible to human hands and makes them available to researchers within the framework of the Human Brain Project.

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Second Generation SpiNNaker Neuromorphic Supercomputer to be Built at TU Dresden

Saxon Science Ministry delivers 8 Mio Euro to TU Dresden for second generation SpiNNaker machine, to be called “SpiNNcloud".

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Hidden Dynamics Detected in Neuronal Networks

Neuronal networks in the brain can process information particularly well when they are close to a critical point – or so brain researchers had assumed based on theoretical considerations. However, experimental investigations of brain activity revealed much fewer indicators of such critical states than expected.

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New model predicts how targeted stimulation can make the brain change from one state to another


Using a computational model of the brain, an international group of scientists led by HBP researcher Gustavo Deco of the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona and by Morten L. Kringelbach (Ahrus and Oxford universities), have developed an innovative method to improve the precision of brain stimulation.

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The HBP: driving synergy between neuroscience and technology

In a new PLOS Biology community page, leading scientists from the Human Brain Project give an overview of the project’s science and infrastructure approach, as well as opportunities for the scientific community to make use of novel computational ressources for neuroscience.

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ICEI Resources Used in the First Detailed 3D Hippocampus Model

ICEI resources are being used in a large-scale project that aims to develop the first detailed and realistic 3D model of an area of the hippocampus.

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The beneficial effects of sleep in a cerebral simulation

Sleep is essential in all animal species, although this decreases the time available for seemingly more productive activities and notwithstanding the increased dangers arising from exposure to predation and environmental hazards. So, why do we sleep? A study by HBP researchers from Italy provides new hints.

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Probabilistic cytoarchitectonic maps for 32 new human brain areas released

The JuBrain cytoarchitectonic atlas consists of probabilistic maps of cortical areas and subcortical nuclei, defined by histological analysis of ten human post-mortem brains for each structure. This cytoarchitectonic atlas is a key element of the HBP Human Brain Atlas, representing the most detailed micro-structural parcellation of the cortex currently available. The existing atlas of 74 individual maps has now received an update, and is extended by 32 new cytoarchitectonic maps.

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The scientific case for brain simulations

In a new perspective article scientists from the HBP argue why such simulations are indispensable for bridging the scales between the neuron and system levels in the brain. The article has been published as a featured perspective in the leading journal Neuron.

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New Cytoarchitectonic maps in BigBrain

The BigBrain is the most detailed human brain model available to date, and one of three reference templates of the HBP atlases. HBP has now released a first set of 3D maps of cytoarchitectonic areas for the BigBrain, which are based on expert delineations employing image analysis and multivariate statistics in individual histological, coronal sections of the BigBrain.

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The Live Papers of the Brain Simulation Platform

Live Papers are interactive documents that refer to recently published scientific articles whose content is related to the work, tools and services publicly available on the BSP. Interactivity is the unique feature of these Live Papers: specific links on the documents will allow one to download, visualise or simulate data, models and results presented in the articles.

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New brain atlas of transgenic mouse disease models shared via the Human Brain Project infrastructure

In a recent Scientific Data paper, researchers from the University of Oslo and The Baylor College of Medicine in Houston present a novel online brain atlas of transgenic mouse lines that are used to generate mouse models of brain diseases, in which gene activity (so called “expression”) can be regulated by administration of the compound tetracycline.

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Human Brain Project publishes opinion on Dual Use of Neuroscience and Neurotechnology

"Dual Use” describes the potential for scientific knowledge and emerging technologies, developed within a civilian context, to be used in other settings, including the military domain.

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MRI and AI to develop a brain virtual biopsy tool

A novel tool has been developed to meet the needs of both fundamental research on the human brain, in particular to decode the cyto- and fiber architectures of the cerebral cortex in vivo, and the clinical research to provide clinicians with a virtual biopsy tool which could eventually replace invasive surgical biopsies.

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New neuronal model with potential to tackle spinocerebellar ataxias disease

Within the partnering environment of the Human Brain Project, a Future and Emerging Technologies Flagship, researchers of the Politechnic University of Milan have developed a simplified neuronal model with potential to tackle the spinocerebellar ataxias disease.

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International Brain Initiatives Bring Together A Global Perspective On Neuroethics

The latest edition of Cell Press's NEURON features an extended feature on neuroethics bringing together publications from the seven component brain initiatives which together form the International Brain Initiative.

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2018

Brains of smarter people have bigger and faster neurons

Scientists working within the Human Brain Project have for the first time uncovered a direct relation between brain cell size and IQ level.

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HBP research contributes to breakthrough neurotechnology for treating paralysis

Three patients with chronic paraplegia were able to walk again thanks to precise electrical stimulation of their spinal cords via a wireless implant.

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New insights into autism through the HBP's human brain atlas

Data obtained within HBP’s brain atlas work has contributed to the discovery of a "short distance" brain connectivity deficit that is associated with a lack of social interaction and empathy.

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Improving epilepsy care: HBP researchers involved in major clinical trial

In a world’s first, personalized brain modelling is providing the basis for a large-scale clinical trial in epilepsy. 

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The HBP and Global Neuroethics

In a joint paper in the October issue of the journal Neuron, researchers from the large global brain initiatives, including HBP's Arleen Salles, discuss ethical considerations for neuroscientists throughout the world. October also saw the second Global Neuroethics Summit in Korea, with several HBP delegates.

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Acetylcholine rapidly alters lateral inhibition in cortical circuits

In a recent publication in Nature Communications, HBP scientist Huib Mansvelder and his team at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam revealed rapid effects of the neuromodulator acetylcholine on human and mouse cortical neuronal networks.

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Neuroimaging and the future of brain cartography

HBP scientists Simon Eickhoff and Sarah Genon this month explained in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience how rapid advances in Magnetic Resonance Imaging may help revolutionize our understanding of the brain’s organization and its relation to human behavior.

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Multi-scale spiking network model of macaque visual cortex

A new cortical multi-area model elucidates relationships between local and global scales in cortex and provides a platform for future studies of cortical function. The study was published in PLOS Computational Biology. A video on YouTube provides instructions on how to get started with the model.

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Reading and writing the mind with brain implants

Scientists are continuously improving methods to read out brain activity and adjust or control it with brain stimulation techniques.

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How brain cells work together for spatial memory and imagery 

Researchers Neil Burgess and Andrej Bicanski from University College London (UCL) have developed a computational model showing how the mental images we have drawn from our memories can be explained by the firing of individual brain cells.

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Individual Brain Charting: A high-resolution brain map of cognitive functions

Funded by the HBP, the Individual Brain Charting project acquires a set of high-resolution functional MRI maps of the brain during a wide range of behavioral tasks.

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Progress in brain simulation on neuromorphic computers

HBP researchers in Manchester and Jülich have compared the accuracy, speed and energy efficiency of the neuromorphic system SpiNNaker with that of the supercomputing software NEST during a large-scale brain simulation.

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The hippocampus as never seen before

Researchers from HBP´s research area Human Brain oroganization have imaged a post-mortem human hippocampus with an 11.7T preclinical MRI machine at unequalled resolution.

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Measures of consciousness in unresponsive patients

Scientists in HBP´s research area Systems and Cognitive Neuroscience (SP3) are working on more accurate and clinically useful ways of measuring whether a patient is conscious, in order to help doctors to make decisions on treatment and care.

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Linking gene expression to brain microstructure

A team of researchers from the European Human Brain Project (HBP) has developed the JuBrain Gene Expression tool (JuGEx) that combines the benefits of a genetic and an anatomical atlas.

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Science: Why some visual cues don’t reach consciousness

Understanding conscious perception is a major challenge for neuroscience. A new study now shows why weak visual stimuli of the same strength are sometimes detected and other times remain subliminal.

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Trends in Cognitive Science: Looking deeper into brain function

SP2 researchers propose a new concept to discover the “operational functions” of brain areas.

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HBP and Intel reveal new neuromorphic chip architectures

SP 9 researchers along with colleagues from Intel have jointly revealed three new neuromorphic chips during the NICE 2018 conference. Prototypes of the new BrainScaleS-2 chip and SpiNNaker-2 chip were presented. 

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HBP workflows and collaboration highlighted in European Psychiatry

A recent publication in the journal European Psychiatry illustrates key principles of the HBP workflows used for registration of a range of data categories to reference atlases of the brain. Neuroscientists upload experimental data and associated metadata to the HBP data systems.

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An algorithm for large-scale brain simulations

Researchers of Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany, RIKEN, Kobe and Wako, Japan, and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm Sweden, have made a decisive step towards creating the technology to achieve simulations of brain-scale networks on future supercomputers of the exascale class.

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Understanding relationships between sensorimotor actions, consciousness and representations

An opinion paper by Cyriel Pennartz presents an argument against a predominant role of sensorimotor actions in generating conscious representations, and proposes a strong coupling between consciousness and goal-directed, deliberative actions as an alternative.

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How to simulate the structural plasticity of the brain at unprecedented scale

Understanding the dynamics of the connectome will allow insights into how learning, memory, and healing after lesions such as stroke work. This is the aim of the Model of Structural Plasticity (MSP) by Butz and van Ooyen, which describes under which conditions neurons connect to each other.

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2017

Virtually studying rehabilitation-induced cortical remapping after stroke

On the Neurorobotics Platform a virtual rodent can be accessed for experiments, consisting of a musculoskeletal and spinal cord model and a data-driven whole brain model.

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The millisecond conversation between brain and eye

Three times a second, 10,000 times every hour, your eyes saccade, jump in unison, shifting their focus from one spot in the visual field to another. And yet the world never appears to leap about or shake as it would if a camera were doing the same. Why?

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Epilepsy: Building Personalised Models of the Brain

Human Brain Project scientist Viktor Jirsa is the head of a team creating personalised brain models for patients with intractable epilepsy.

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Publication and symposium on the neural correlates of consciousness

HBP partners including Johan Storm, Marcello Massimini, and Cyriel Pennartz organized a symposium on consciousness in collaboration with Christof Koch (Allen Institute for Brain Science) at SfN annual meeting 2017 in Washington, D.C and wrote an associated mini-review on consciousness in the Journal of Neuroscience.

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HBP Pilot System JURON in top 5 of IO500 ranking

The HBP Pilot System JURON, developed by IBM and NVIDIA and based on POWER8 processors, Tesla P100 GPUs and an InfiniBand network, was highly ranked in the new IO500 list - a new High Performance Computing (HPC) storage ranking which debuted at SC17.

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HBP researchers describe two new classes of neurons

An international team of HBP scientists has identified two new classes of pyramidal neurons, termed “slim-tufted” and “profuse-tufted”, after their characteristic anatomical features.

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The brain is still ‘connected’ during non-REM sleep

New research shows the brain remains interconnected during non-REM sleep, which was thought not to happen.

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Progress in building Europe’s new platform for understanding the brain

Over 500 scientists and engineers from 19 countries met in Glasgow at the 5th Summit of the Human Brain Project.

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The thalamus and critical-period plasticity

A Nature Neuroscience publication on critical-period plasticity shows the unrecognized role of the thalamus in regulating ocular dominance plasticity. 

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Zülich-prize for research into consciousness

Steven Laureys received the Klaus Joachim Zülch 2017 prize from the Max Planck Society. He was honored for his “fundamental discoveries in the neurology of consciousness and coma.” 

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SpiNNaker-1 – A Spiking Neural Network Model of the Lateral Geniculate Nucleus

A model with a synaptic layout which is consistent with biology has been used to simulate biologically plausible dynamics of the Lateral Geniculate Nucleus (LGN) on the neuromorphic computing system SpiNNaker.

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Rich cell-type-specific network topology in neocortical microcircuitry

Uncovering structural regularities and architectural topologies of cortical circuitry is vital for understanding neural computations.

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Distinct feedforward and feedback effects of microstimulation in visual cortex reveal neuronal mechanisms of texture segregation

In this publication HBP researchers probed interactions between visual cortical areas V1 and V4 with electrical microstimulation.

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Neuroanatomy and Global Neuroscience

In an article for the journal Neuron, SP1-leader Javier de Felipe highlights that worldwide collaboration will be key to understanding the brain.

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Understanding vision with the help of neurorobotics

A modular, flexible visual system is in development that any neuroscientist or roboticist could use for his/her own purpose is in development on the Neurorobotics Platform.

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New web-based interactive 3D viewer for Terabyte-sized brain templates

A web-based 3D viewer for exploring Terabyte-sized brain templates together with their surfaces and parcellations has been developed by the team of Timo Dickscheid at Forschungszentrum Jülich, in collaboration with the group of Jan Bjaalie at University of Oslo.

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BrainScaleS-1 – Training a deep spiking network on the wafer system

Emulating spiking neural networks on analog neuromorphic hardware offers several advantages over simulating them on conventional computers, particularly in terms of speed and energy consumption. However, this usually comes at the cost of reduced control over the dynamics of the emulated networks.

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HBP welcomes two new advisory boards

Openness, Transparency and Outreach are key values for the HBP in order to bring in the best scientific and clinical groups onto the platform at the scales needed to make an impact.

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HBP researchers describe the response to physiological and pathological discharge patterns

The study enables the construction of precise neuronal network models that may help us to understand how network dynamics is generated and how it can underlie information processing and pathological conditions in the brain.

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Release of the first batch of more than 500 MRI images on NeuroVault

The release consists of high-resolution MRI images which represent activations of 12 subjects of the Individual Brain Charting (IBC) cohort for the first set of functional contrasts. This is the first step towards normative datasets that will be the basis of a brain atlas based on cognitive representations.

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A First Principles Approach to Memory Recall

HBP theoretical neuroscientist Dr Misha Tsodyks is attempting to provide a first principles approach to understanding the free recall of memory. With his collaborators Mikhail Katkov and Sandro Romani, Tsodyks recently published a perspective in Neuron that sought to demonstrate a first principles approach to understanding memory retrieval.

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Nature Neuroscience: How to improve data analysis and sharing in neuroimaging using MRI

HBP researchers contributed to this article in Nature Neuroscience, defining best practices in data analysis and sharing in neuroimaging using MRI, to promote reproducibility, transparency, reliability and collaboration, enabling the community to fully exploit the potential of the world’s neuroimaging data.

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Article in Lancet Neurology: Understanding the brain through large, multidisciplinary research initiatives

The multidisciplinary and multicenter approach needed to tackle the issues around understanding the brain are highlighted in an article in Lancet Neurology.

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