Scientists have created a virtual rat brain made up of 30,000 neurons, 55 layers of cells and 207 different neuron subtypes.
For 10 years, a global initiative called the Blue Brain Project-hosted at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL)-has been attempting to digitally create a section of juvenile rat brain, Science Daily reported.
Getting a full, high-resolution picture of all the features and activity of the neurons within a brain region and the circuit-level behaviours of neurons is a major challenge.
Henry Markram of the EPFL and colleagues have taken an engineering approach to this question by digitally reconstructing a slice of the neocortex, an area of the brain that has benefited from extensive characterization.
They built a virtual brain slice representing the different neuron types present in this region and the key features controlling their firing and, most notably, modeling their connectivity, including nearly 40 million synapses and 2,000 connections between each brain cell type.