Science Times: High-Resolution Computational Modeling of Somatosensory Cortex

A large-scale, biologically realistic computer model of rat somatosensory cortex from the Blue Brain Project (BBP) recently published in Cell represents an exceptional attempt to duplicate (by reverse-engineering) a tiny piece of neocortex with all its neurons and synapses to emulate its electric behavior.1 The BBP, orchestrated and launched a decade ago by Henry Markram, has accomplished this with immunohistochemical staining followed by 3-dimensional morphological reconstruction and classification of neurons in Wistar rat slices (approximately 2000 stained, approximately 1000 reconstructed;Figure). The morphological classification (55 types) has been extended by including electric properties of neurons based on their firing pattern (11 types). The BBP used the NEURON modeling software package (parallel version) to render copies of multicompartmental conductance-based (Hodgkin-Huxley type) models of reconstructed neurons (approximately 31 000) inside a neocortical volume of 0.29 mm3. . .

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