The human brain is a very complex structure: neuroscientists are still discovering all of the brain's potential and how neurological diseases occur. According to an article on ]]>BBC News]]>, scientists may only be ten years away from creating an artificial human brain, which can reveal the brain functions and diseases that may have remained hidden.
The primary goal of creating an artificial brain, according to the scientists behind the project, is to treat mental illnesses. While the idea of creating an artificial brain may seem like science fiction, research is drawing much closer than ever before.
According to Henry Markram, director of the Blue Brain Project, parts of an artificial rat brain have already been created. The focus in the creation of the artificial brain is making a neocortical column, which is part of the neocortex. According to Markram, the neocortical column is essential in mammals to help “cope with parenthood, social interactions and complex cognitive functions.” The ]]>BBC News]]> article notes that the Blue Brain Project uses the IBM Blue Gene machine with 10,000 processors. The project has thousands of individual neurons, just like a biological brain. To test its effectiveness, the researchers expose the computer to images, and then track the brain's responding electrical activity. According to the ]]>BBC News]]>, the goal of the artificial brain project is so “that researchers could see directly how a brain perceives the world.”
Because the artificial brain can provide better insight into brain function, it can also lead to treatment of mental illness, since many mental illnesses do not have fully effective treatments. According to the ]]>Mayo Clinic]]>, “mental illness is a collective term that refers to all the different types of mental conditions, including those that affect your mood, your thinking and your behavior.