Researchers Digitise Part of a Rat Brain

By Gary Cutlack on at

Researchers have taken another huge step forward in the race to let Ray Kurzweil upload himself to the internet before he dies, announcing the successful recreation and accurate simulation of part of a brain -- of a rat.

It's quite a leap for pretend-brain-kind, as this slice of rat brain contains around 31,000 neurons, meaning this latest simulated centre is much more complex than the previous best lab brain -- that of a simple 302-neuron flatworm. The lab rat brain uses cellular and synaptic organizing principles to "algorithmically reconstruct detailed anatomy and physiology" or a chunk of the rat neocortex, resulting in a computerised part of a brain that is described as a full "digital reconstruction" capable of organising itself.

The paper concludes: "This study demonstrates that it is possible, in principle, to reconstruct an integrated view of the structure and function of neocortical microcircuitry, using sparse, complementary datasets to predict biological parameters that have not been measured experimentally," which we think means they're fudging it a bit but it still works because their model is clever.

Meanwhile, in a separate lab across the hall, a man is working to construct a working rat body out on an empty coke can, Lego wheels and a small fan motor, with the dream being that the rat of the future may be entirely autonomous. [Cell via Techradar]

Image credit: Lab rat from Shutterstock