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article imageEuropean brain project under review

By Tim Sandle     Mar 15, 2015 in Science
Brussels - Following serious criticism throughout 2014, the European Commission–led scheme to map the brain’s neural connections must undergo serious reform or be shut down, according to a review panel.
In early 2014 the European Commission proposed the Human Brain Project (HBP). Since the plan was announced it has faced criticism from Europe's scientific community. In fact, more than 250 of Europe’s top neuroscientists threatened to boycott the $1.6 billion project.
The aim of the HBP is to create a vastly complex computer simulation of the human brain. The task would take years to complete and siphon billions of euros.
A European Commission (EC) review panel has now reflected the concerns stated by many of Europe's top scientists. The Commission has decided that the HBP needs to change governance and improve the way that groups involved in the project collaborate and communicate.
In a review decision, the Commission stated: “The reviewers recommend that changes are made to ensure that the decision making processes are simple, fair, and transparent. It is important for the HBP to better articulate its strategic goals and to communicate them in a clear and realistic way, within the HBP, to the wider scientific community and to the public, and to avoid at all costs creating unrealistic expectations.”
In addition to suggesting a change in governance of the HBP, the Commission has also recommended enhanced collaboration among subprojects. The panel has given the HBP until June to implement the improvements.
Commenting on the Commission's report, one of the neuroscientists who headed the earlier concerns, computational neuroscientist Alexandre Pouget of the University of Geneva in Switzerland, told the website Science Insider: "We are very pleased, because [the review is] confirming the problems that we have been pointing out. They are making the exact same points we have made.”
More about Brain, brain project, Obama, brain map, Neurons
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