Robotics

This assistive robot is controlled via brain-computer interface

Researchers at the University of Cassino and Southern Lazio, in Italy, have recently developed a cutting-edge architecture that enables the operation of an assistive robot via a P300-based brain computer interface (BCI). ...

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

A new strategy to correct imperfections in occupancy grid maps

Researchers at Laboratório de Computação de Alto Desempenho (LCAD) of Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo (UFES), in Brazil, have devised a novel strategy for correcting imperfections in occupancy grid maps by correcting ...

Computer Sciences

A new method to instill curiosity in reinforcement learning agents

Several real-world tasks have sparse rewards and this poses challenges for the development of reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms. A solution to this problem is to allow an agent to autonomously create a reward for itself, ...

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 ...

Engineering

Researchers build hybrid chip able to run autonomous bicycle

A team made up of members from a host of institutions in China, one in Singapore and one in the U.S., has built a hybrid chip that can control an autonomous bicycle. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the group ...

Engineering

Fast, flexible ionic transistors for bioelectronic devices

Many major advances in medicine, especially in neurology, have been sparked by recent advances in electronic systems that can acquire, process, and interact with biological substrates. These bioelectronic systems, which are ...

Engineering

Controlling neurons with light—but without wires or batteries

University of Arizona biomedical engineering professor Philipp Gutruf is first author on the paper Fully implantable, optoelectronic systems for battery-free, multimodal operation in neuroscience research, published in Nature ...

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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