Engineering

Engineers translate brain signals directly into speech

In a scientific first, Columbia neuroengineers have created a system that translates thought into intelligible, recognizable speech. By monitoring someone's brain activity, the technology can reconstruct the words a person ...

Computer Sciences

Researchers build first working memcomputer prototype

(Tech Xplore)—A combined team of researchers from the University of California and Politecnico di Torino in Italy has built, for the first time, a working memory-crunching computer (memcomputer) prototype. It is capable, ...

Computer Sciences

Novel algorithm enables statistical analysis of time series data

Whether it's tracking brain activity in the operating room, seismic vibrations during an earthquake, or biodiversity in a single ecosystem over a million years, measuring the frequency of an occurrence over a period of time ...

Machine learning & AI

The brain inspires a new type of artificial intelligence

Machine learning, introduced 70 years ago, is based on evidence of the dynamics of learning in the brain. Using the speed of modern computers and large datasets, deep learning algorithms have recently produced results comparable ...

Computer Sciences

Using ablation to examine the structure of artificial neural networks

A team of researchers at RWTH Aachen University's Institute of Information Management in Mechanical Engineering have recently explored the use of neuroscience techniques to determine how information is structured inside artificial ...

Computer Sciences

Developing brain atlas using deep learning algorithms

A team of researchers from the Brain Research Institute of the University of Zurich and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) have developed a fully automated brain registration method that could be used to segment ...

Robotics

Brain-inspired artificial intelligence in robots

Research groups at KAIST, the University of Cambridge, Japan's National Institute for Information and Communications Technology, and Google DeepMind argue that our understanding of how humans make intelligent decisions has ...

Computer Sciences

Brain-inspired computing could tackle big problems in a small way

While computers have become smaller and more powerful and supercomputers and parallel computing have become the standard, we are about to hit a wall in energy and miniaturization. Now, Penn State researchers have designed ...

Computer Sciences

Researchers find algorithm for large-scale brain simulations

An international group of researchers has made a decisive step towards creating the technology to achieve simulations of brain-scale networks on future supercomputers of the exascale class. The breakthrough, published in ...

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Brain

The brain is the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate, and most invertebrate, animals. Some primitive animals such as jellyfish and starfish have a decentralized nervous system without a brain, while sponges lack any nervous system at all. In vertebrates, the brain is located in the head, protected by the skull and close to the primary sensory apparatus of vision, hearing, balance, taste, and smell.

Brains can be extremely complex. The cerebral cortex of the human brain contains roughly 15-33 billion neurons depending on gender and age, linked with up to 10,000 synaptic connections each. Each cubic millimeter of cerebral cortex contains roughly one billion synapses. These neurons communicate with one another by means of long protoplasmic fibers called axons, which carry trains of signal pulses called action potentials to distant parts of the brain or body and target them to specific recipient cells.

The most important biological function of the brain is to generate behaviors that promote the welfare of an animal. Brains control behavior either by activating muscles, or by causing secretion of chemicals such as hormones. Even single-celled organisms may be capable of extracting information from the environment and acting in response to it. Sponges, which lack a central nervous system, are capable of coordinated body contractions and even locomotion. In vertebrates, the spinal cord by itself contains neural circuitry capable of generating reflex responses as well as simple motor patterns such as swimming or walking. However, sophisticated control of behavior on the basis of complex sensory input requires the information-integrating capabilities of a centralized brain.

Despite rapid scientific progress, much about how brains work remains a mystery. The operations of individual neurons and synapses are now understood in considerable detail, but the way they cooperate in ensembles of thousands or millions has been very difficult to decipher. Methods of observation such as EEG recording and functional brain imaging tell us that brain operations are highly organized, but these methods do not have the resolution to reveal the activity of individual neurons.

This text uses material from Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA