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Teamwork and digitalisation no-brainers for neuroscience advances

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Neuroscience research has received a bounty over the past decade thanks to multidisciplinary collaboration and the dividends of digitalisation, say leading scientists in the field.

Fifteen experts at the European Human Brain Project (HBP) claim the group is the first that ‘systematically connects brain research, medicine and information technologies’.

The HBP has brought together communities from different disciplines and countries to work collaboratively on common goals. HBP scientists employ highly-advanced methods from computing, neuroinformatics, simulation and artificial intelligence to carry out cutting-edge brain research.

Brain research is fast becoming a key driver of technological advances in computing, artificial neuronal networks, cognitive computing and neurorobotics.

“Basic neuroscience research is the rocket fuel for advances in medicine and IT,” says Viktor Jirsa, Director at the Institut de Neurosciences des Systèmes of Inserm and Aix-Marseille University.

“The HBP has challenged us to think beyond the boundaries of our own laboratories and domains and has enabled us to go much further than we could have ever gone by ourselves,” says Jirsa.

Katrin Amunts, HBP Scientific Director, Director of the C. and O. Vogt-Institute of Brain Research, Düsseldorf and Director at the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine at Research Centre Jülich, comments that the way we study the brain has changed fundamentally in recent years.

She adds: “In the past, separate communities have often focused on specific aspects of neuroscience, and the problem was always how to link the different worlds, for example, in order to explain a certain cognitive function in terms of the underlying neurobiology.”

The human brain is one of the most complex systems known to humankind, and many of its most basic functions are still not fully understood. There is an urgent need to gain deeper insights into the complexity of the brain in order to target mental and neurological diseases.

This requires the integration of insights from multiple scales both on the spatial and temporal level. To address this challenge, the HBP has built a digital research infrastructure called EBRAINS, tapping the expertise of neuroscientists, developers, engineers and data analysts.


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