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Neuroscientists join major European project to develop artificial brain systems

Neuroscientists at Sussex have been invited to join a €1 billion European Union research initiative aimed at developing the tools needed to understand the human brain and its diseases.

Professor Thomas Nowotny and colleagues in Informatics are among selected research groups and institutions from 26 countries taking part in the Human Brain Project, a 10-year initiative supported by the European Commission.

Professor Nowotny will be investigating brain-inspired ways to solve complex computing problems involving large datasets.

Working with Dr Michael Schmuker, who joins Sussex later this year as a Marie Sklodowska Curie Fellow from the Freie Universität in Berlin, he will be creating computer software for artificial brains (neuromorphic hardware systems) that use silicon chips to mimic how neurons work.

Prototype software developed by Dr Schmuker can already be trained to discriminate between different flower species, or handwritten digits. The aim of Professor Nowotny’s two-year project is to begin to develop a system that could replace traditional computers in areas such as face recognition and other pattern recognition problems.

Professor Nowotny says: “It’s exciting to be invited to take part in such a prestigious project and we’re excited about now being able to take our research ideas to the next level.”

Dr Schmuker says: “The massively parallel architecture of brain-like neuromorphic hardware opens a path to completely new computing paradigms.”

By: Jacqui Bealing
Last updated: Friday, 6 June 2014