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, ...

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

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 ...

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

Revolutionizing everyday products with artificial intelligence

"Who is Bram Stoker?" Those three words demonstrated the amazing potential of artificial intelligence. It was the answer to a final question in a particularly memorable 2011 episode of Jeopardy!. The three competitors were ...

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 ...

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Human brain

The human brain is the center of the human nervous system and is a highly complex organ. Enclosed in the cranium, it has the same general structure as the brains of other mammals, but is over three times as large as the brain of a mammal with an equivalent body size. Most of the expansion comes from the cerebral cortex, a convoluted layer of neural tissue that covers the surface of the forebrain. Especially expanded are the frontal lobes, which are involved in executive functions such as self-control, planning, reasoning, and abstract thought. The portion of the brain devoted to vision is also greatly enlarged in humans.

Brain evolution, from the earliest shrewlike mammals through primates to hominids, is marked by a steady increase in encephalization, or the ratio of brain to body size. The human brain has been estimated to contain 50–100 billion (1011) neurons[citation needed], of which about 10 billion (1010) are cortical pyramidal cells.[citation needed] These cells pass signals to each other via approximately 100 trillion (1014)[citation needed] synaptic connections.

In spite of the fact that it is protected by the thick bones of the skull, suspended in cerebrospinal fluid, and isolated from the bloodstream by the blood-brain barrier, the delicate nature of the human brain makes it susceptible to many types of damage and disease. The most common forms of physical damage are closed head injuries such as a blow to the head, a stroke, or poisoning by a wide variety of chemicals that can act as neurotoxins. Infection of the brain is rare because of the barriers that protect it, but is very serious when it occurs. More common are genetically based diseases[citation needed], such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and many others. A number of psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia and depression, are widely thought to be caused at least partially by brain dysfunctions, although the nature of such brain anomalies is not well understood.

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