BEACON TRANSCRIPT – In spite of all ethical debates, scientists have digitally recreated a ‘slice’ or rat brain. The achievement was made through a two-phase process during which researchers used a software to recreate the neural activity of a lab rat.
The scientific experiment was conducted as part of the Blue Brain Project from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in France. The study lasted for almost two decades during which scientists have closely analyzed the structure of the neocortical tissue and the various brain cells. In the last part of the experiment, researchers have tried to digitally reconstruct the brain of the rat using the withdrawn data.
The second stage of the experiment involved a series of tests for the replacement of the neurons in the 3D model. A special software was developed to determine the position of the neurons in the 3D brain model. Thanks to the new algorithm, scientists have managed to add several synapses and then, maintain only those that provided connectivity.
Investigators did not recreate just any brain part; they have chosen a ‘brain slice’ that was located on the neocortex. Similar to the real-life human brain, the digital model contained almost 40 million synapses and 2,000 brain cell connections.
The mere recreation of the brain slice was not enough for scientists, who wanted to go further and see how the lab brain functioned under various circumstances. Consequently, they have tested the brain neurons under various conditions, including a lower level of calcium ions. This particular change has enabled scientists to observe that fewer calcium degree levels cause new patterns of neural circuit activity.
The new tests revealed scientists that there could be various brain states, depending on the input that neurons receive. The following question that researchers raised was what happens if the brain gets stuck in a wrong state of mind, but further studies will be required to find an answer to this question.
The new algorithm could be used to solve some medical problems, including the fight-or-flight response. This phenomenon presupposes a physiological state in which a threatened individual or animal could either flee or fight.
The findings of the new study were published in the journal Cell.
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