Learning from the brain: Computer scientists developing new generation of neuro-computer

Feb 02, 2010
Nerve cells are joined together by independent connections called synapses. © TU Graz/IGI

Intelligent machines that not only think for themselves but also actively learn are the vision of researchers of the Institute for Theoretical Science (IGI) at Graz University of Technology (Austria).

They have been co-ordinating the European Union research project “Brain-i-Nets” (Novel Brain Inspired Learning Paradigms for Large-Scale Neuronal Networks) for three years, and are launching a three-day meeting of the participating researchers in Graz today, Monday, 1 February 2010. The scientists want to design a new generation of neuro-computers based on the principles of calculation and learning mechanisms found in the brain, and at the same time gain new knowledge about the brain’s learning mechanisms.

The human brain consists of a network of several billion . These are joined together by independent connections called synapses. Synapses are changing all the time - something scientists name synaptic plasticity. This highly complex system represents a basis for independent thinking and learning. But even today there are still many open questions for researchers.

“In contrast to today’s computers, the brain doesn’t carry out a set programme but rather is always adapting functions and reprogramming them anew. Many of these effects have not been explained,” comments IGI head Wolfgang Maass together with project co-ordinator Robert Legenstein. In co-operation with neuroscientists and physicists, and with the help of new experimental methods, they want to research the mechanisms of synaptic plasticity in the organism.

The researchers are hoping to gain new knowledge from this research about the learning mechanisms in the human . They want to use this knowledge of learning mechanisms to develop new learning methods for artificial systems which process information. The scientists’ long-term goal is to develop adaptive computers together which have the potential to revolutionise today’s information society.

The three-year project is financed by the EU funding framework “Future Emerging Technologies” (FET), which supports especially innovative and visionary approaches in information technology. International experts chose only nine out of the 176 applications, among which was “Brain-i-Nets”. Partners of the research initiative worth 2.6m euro include University College London, the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg und the University of Zurich.

Explore further: UT Dallas professor to develop framework to protect computers' cores

Provided by Graz University of Technology

4.3 /5 (4 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Hairstyle of a Neuron: From Hairy to Mushroom-Head

Mar 07, 2007

Synapses are essential for the brain's normal function: their absence or presence is tightly linked to the brain's ability to transfer, process, and store information. Synapses are thus constantly generated ...

New insight into Alzheimer’s disease

Dec 24, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new molecule important in a part of the memory that allows recognition of people has been identified by researchers at the University of Bristol. This type of memory is impaired at an early ...

The building blocks of memory

Aug 20, 2007

Learning new things, remembering past experiences and adapting to a changing environment - these abilities carried out by the brain are essential for day-to-day survival. This unique flexibility is in part ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0

More news stories

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

A homemade solar lamp for developing countries

(Phys.org) —The solar lamp developed by the start-up LEDsafari is a more effective, safer, and less expensive form of illumination than the traditional oil lamp currently used by more than one billion people ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...