A group of Canadian researchers has made a virtual brain to study the mechanism of a real brain. After years of study, Chris Eliasmith, a neuroscientist at the University of Waterloo, along with others researchers has created “the world’s largest simulation of a functioning brain” called Semantic Pointer Architecture Unified Network, in short SPAUN.
The group took one year to build this virtual brain. SPAUN contains 2.5 million neurons that can be stimulated. However, SPAUN can recognize numbers, remember and translate lists, and write them down later. A total of 2.5 million simulated neurons organized into subsystems to resemble the prefrontal cortex, basil ganglia, thalamus and other cognitive machinery in the brain. It also has a simulated eye that can see, and an arm that draws.
Chris Eliasmith said, “I thought the only way people are going to believe me is if I demonstrate it.” He has also said that the virtual brain imitates the real neurons’ functionality and it can perform a number of eight different tasks, also having the ability to pass from a task to another “just like the human brain.”
Researchers explain, “Spaun is not as adaptive as a real brain, as the model is unable to learn completely new tasks. In addition, both attention and eye position of the model is fixed, making Spaun unable to control its own input.”
At present, Chris Eliasmith, in collaboration with scientists from the United States and Britain, is working on SPAUN’s further development. He believes that the virtual brain’s development would not only lead to more advanced “machine intelligence,” but also to a better understanding of neurological dysfunctions. Chris Eliasmith is going to publish a book describing the complex construction of the brain and demonstrating its function.
Source : Canada.com