Human Brain Project under fire

Source: 33rd square

Sources: Nature 511, July 7, 2014. Also: The Guardian, July 7, 2014.

The European Human Brain Project has come under fire. In an open letter, more than 500 neuroscientists oppose the management style of the project. The Guardian and Nature report that the international protest was triggered by the elimination of studies on cognition from the project. Cognitive neuroscientists feel ousted.

From The Guardian: “Central to the latest controversy are recent changes made by Henry Markram, head of the Human Brain Project at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology in Lausanne. The changes sidelined cognitive scientists who study high-level brain functions, such as thought and behaviour. Without them, the brain simulation will be built from the bottom up, drawing on more fundamental science, such as studies of individual neurons.”

From Nature: “Stanislas Dehaene … says that such a simulation, “while not totally useless, will fail to elucidate brain functions and diseases, much like a simulation of every feather on a bird would fail to clarify flight”. Along with other ousted colleagues, Dehaene believes that a top-down, reverse-engineering approach is required, starting with behaviour and high-density recordings of electrical activity in the brains of humans or animals to elucidate how information is encoded and used.”

More discussion from MIT Technology Review.

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