Neurons to Power Future Computers.

BBC News (07/23/10)

University of Plymouth computer scientists led by Thomas Wennekers are developing novel computers that mimic the way neurons are built and how they communicate. Neural-based computers could lead to improvements in visual and audio processing. “We want to learn from biology to build future computers,” Wennekers says. “The brain is much more complex than the neural networks that have been implemented so far.” The researchers are collecting data about neurons and how they are connected in one part of the brain. The project is focusing on the laminar microcircuitry of the neocortex, which is involved in higher brain functions such as seeing and hearing. Meanwhile, Manchester University professor Steve Furber is using the neural blueprint to produce new hardware. Furber’s project, called Spinnaker, is developing a computer optimized to run like biology does. Spinnaker aims to develop innovative computer processing systems and insights into the way that several computational elements can be connected. “The primary objective is just to understand what’s happening in the biology,” Furber says. “Our understanding of processing in the brain is extremely thin.”

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