When neuroscience and electronic engineering intersect: bettering the brain

The connection between neuroscience and electronic engineering is growing, and it’s a link that could lead to more knowledge about how the human brain works. Beyond that, the two fields could also intersect to shed further light on artificial intelligence through the Human Brain Project by the European Union.

The use of electroencephalography or EEGs as well as functional magnetic resonance imaging or fMRIs already allow doctors to use electricity to detect diseases and conditions such as schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and epilepsy. The Human Brain Project understands that EEGs and fMRIs can go even deeper though, perhaps figuring out neurons or brain cells and how they interact when a person moves or feels emotion.

Comprised of editors from the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers, the Human Brain Project seeks to connect information and communications technology and biology in order to learn more about the human brain.

In the realm of neuroscience, the Human Brain Project seeks to use investigational information and experiments, while in the realm of supercomputing, the group will use brain simulation technology to study intelligence. In the realm of medicine, the Project seeks to study diseases of the brain to lead to better and more accurate diagnoses in the future.

Mark Mcdonnell, one of the lead researchers of the Human Brain Project, specifically points out a situation in which neurons don’t excel at recognizing individual voices in an instance where many people are talking at once. As a result, he and the others on his team would seek to look into automatic music transcription as well as speech recognition to figure out how neurons function in these conditions.

In this situation and many others, the Human Brain Project would construct vision sensors similar to the way a person’s retina acts in their eye as well as electronic circuits similar to the way brain cells function. Mcdonnell cites that the University of Sydney’s Bioelectronics and Neuroscience group does similar work with studying neuromorphic engineering.

According to the Human Brain Project, they believe that a bionic future lies ahead, or rather, one that fuses electronics and biology together.

Mcdonnell references the existence of cochlear implants, which he calls bionic ears that allow those with hearing difficulties to regain their sense of hearing. He also mentions medical bionic projects that can reduce the rate of epilepsy, improve vision, and treat brain disorders.

The Human Brain Project believes that they can only improve upon such functions with their studies. Electrical engineers can increase knowledge of brain neurons which thus allows for similar systems to be constructed and then researched. In this setting, groups like the Human Brain Project can provide useful data to improve intelligence even further.

Mcdonnell notes that the process is similar to reverse-engineering the brain. After being inspired by an Australian Academy of Science think-tank report that cited the future of the bionic brain, the Human Brain Project wants to achieve such a brain for the betterment of mankind.

About the author

Nitin Agarwal

Nitin has a background in Electrical Engineering and is passionate about the Internet of Things. He covers how connected devices like smart homes, wearables, and industrial IoT are changing our daily lives. Nitin is also a DIY enthusiast and loves to build IoT gadgets.