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The simulations begun by Henry Markram and team on the Blue Brain Project in 2005 constitute the basis for the much more ambitious Human Brain Project, which is intended to capture the workings of the entire organ. Markram and colleagues will learn next year whether the project will be funded. Some of the simulations made by Blue Brain Project researchers give an inkling of what is to come. In this video from Blue Brain, the viewer moves from the level of a single brain cell up through the circuits of a cortical column.
The request for 1 billion Euros for the Human Brain Project has not escaped controversy. Some scientists have criticized the usefulness of a full brain simulation that can only be achieved at great cost. A recent book, Connectome, by noted neuroscientist Sebastian Seung included a critique of the Blue Brain Project, a consideration of whether this approach could come close enough in verisimilitude to the real thing to serve as a tool that provides new insights into neural operations. An excerpt is included here.