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    A Computer Model Of The Brain - That Daydreams
    By News Staff | July 12th 2013 07:21 PM | 1 comment | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    Researchers have created a virtual model of the brain based on the dynamics of brain cells and the many connections those cells make with their neighbors and with cells in other brain regions - and it daydreams like humans do.

    The group hope the model will help them understand why certain portions of the brain work together when a person daydreams or is mentally idle. This, in turn, may one day help doctors better diagnose and treat brain injuries.

    Scientists first recognized in the late 1990s and early 2000s that the brain stays busy even when it's not engaged in mental tasks. Researchers have identified several "resting state" brain networks, which are groups of different brain regions that have activity levels that rise and fall in sync when the brain is at rest. They have also linked disruptions in networks associated with brain injury and disease to cognitive problems in memory, attention, movement and speech.

    The new model was developed to help scientists learn how the brain's anatomical structure contributes to the creation and maintenance of resting state networks. The researchers began with a process for simulating small groups of neurons, including factors that decrease or increase the likelihood that a group of cells will send a signal.

    "We can give our model lesions like those we see in stroke or brain cancer, disabling groups of virtual cells to see how brain function is affected," said senior author Maurizio Corbetta, M.D, Professor of Neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. "We can also test ways to push the patterns of activity back to normal."

    "In a way, we treated small regions of the brain like cognitive units: not as individual cells but as groups of cells," said Gustavo Deco, PhD, professor and head of the Computational Neuroscience Group at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. "The activity of these cognitive units sends out excitatory signals to the other units through anatomical connections. This makes the connected units more or less likely to synchronize their signals."

    Based on data from brain scans, researchers assembled 66 cognitive units in each hemisphere, and interconnected them in anatomical patterns similar to the connections present in the brain.

    Scientists set up the model so that the individual units went through the signaling process at random low frequencies that had previously been observed in brain cells in culture and in recordings of resting brain activity.

    Next, researchers let the model run, slowly changing the coupling, or the strength of the connections between units. At a specific coupling value, the interconnections between units sending impulses soon began to create coordinated patterns of activity.

    "Even though we started the cognitive units with random low activity levels, the connections allowed the units to synchronize," Deco said. "The spatial pattern of synchronization that we eventually observed approximates very well—about 70 percent—to the patterns we see in scans of resting human brains."

    Using the model to simulate 20 minutes of human brain activity took a cluster of powerful computers 26 hours. But researchers were able to simplify the mathematics to make it possible to run the model on a typical computer.

    "This simpler whole brain model allows us to test a number of different hypotheses on how the structural connections generate dynamics of brain function at rest and during tasks, and how brain damage affects brain dynamics and cognitive function," Corbetta said.


    Published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

    Comments

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Researchers have created a virtual model of the brain based on the dynamics of brain cells and the many connections those cells make with their neighbors and with cells in other brain regions - and it daydreams like humans do.
    Ha ha, very funny!
    Based on data from brain scans, researchers assembled 66 cognitive units in each hemisphere, and interconnected them in anatomical patterns similar to the connections present in the brain.Scientists set up the model so that the individual units went through the signaling process at random low frequencies that had previously been observed in brain cells in culture and in recordings of resting brain activity.

    Even funnier!

    Next, researchers let the model run, slowly changing the coupling, or the strength of the connections between units. At a specific coupling value, the interconnections between units sending impulses soon began to create coordinated patterns of activity.
    "Even though we started the cognitive units with random low activity levels, the connections allowed the units to synchronize," Deco said. "The spatial pattern of synchronization that we eventually observed approximates very well—about 70 percent—to the patterns we see in scans of resting human brains."

    So they managed to make a computer system synchronize 132 hierarchical, interconnected, program modules, that were programmed specifically to exchange and respond to data packages, represented as low to high frequency  'signals', based on a coupling value or variable amplification level. Then as they slowly increased that numerical coupling value of the data exchanged between the program modules, they discovered a point at which the 132 modules exhibited data or signal exchanges, that appeared to be coordinated or synchronized. 

    Surely that is normal for any operating system, as order will eventually come out of chaos, especially if you keep gradually altering the variables that are generating the chaos? How can anyone seriously say that this means that the computer is daydreaming? It is simply data synchronisation :-

    'Data synchronization is the process of establishing consistency among data from a source to a target data storage and vice versa and the continuous harmonization of the data over time. It is fundamental to a wide variety of applications, including file synchronization and mobile device synchronization e.g. for PDAs'

    So does that mean that personal digital assistants are capable of daydreaming and have been for decades? Of course it doesn't, because we still don't even understand how the interactive brain works and how memories are formed and retrieved let alone day dreams. All that the fMRI does is 'measure signal changes in the brain that are due to changing neural activity'. 

    So to say that any computer system that can be made to exhibit data synchronization or signals, by gradually altering the size of the data packages being exchanged between its hierarchical interactive modules and that because this synchronization is 70% similar in its 'pattern' of interaction, to the signals shown in an fMRI scan of a brain daydreaming and that therefore this somehow means that the same computer system is daydreaming, is really quite ludicrous! It is just interesting research and this article is making grandiose and scientifically, unjustified and misleading claims.

    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine