Ultrabrain

Brain and Pixels (EBruner)The BigBrain Project has received lot of attention: a whole human brain sectioned in 7400 slices with 20 microns thickness, stained for evidencing the cellular bodies and then digitized. An exciting success, indeed, not only for anatomical advances but also for technical and methodological challenges. Data storing and exploration is a major issue in our digital era, and I am fascinated by the numbers discussed in the paper published on Science. A recent digitized mouse brain at 1 micron resolution can be stored in 8 Terabytes. A similar attempt for a single human brain would therefore require 21.000 Terabytes! Just one specimen. Difficult to store, impossible to handle with the current technology. Computers can store a huge and amazing quantity of information, but they can roughly store or handle the information of one human brain. And we are here dealing only with the raw spatial organization. In terms of function, we are still entangled in a famous cybernetic paradox: a computer can perform incredible and unimaginable calculations, but we have not been able to make it properly … walk!

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