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€1.2bn Human Brain Project Under Scrutiny, Scientists Threaten to Boycott

Update Date: Jul 07, 2014 02:41 PM EDT
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The world's largest project to unravel the mysteries of human brain has been thrown into crisis, according to a report by The Guardian. More than 100 leading researchers are threatening to boycott the effort amid accusations that it suffers from 'substantial failures'. 

The €1.2bn (£950m) Human Brain Project (HBP) was launched last year by The European commission with an ambition of turning the latest knowledge in neuroscience into a supercomputer simulation of human brain. 

However the project has been proved controversial from the starting itself. 

"The main apparent goal of building the capacity to construct a larger-scale simulation of the human brain is radically premature," Peter Dayan, director of the computational neuroscience unit at UCL, told the Guardian.

"We are left with a project that can't but fail from a scientific perspective. It is a waste of money, it will suck out funds from valuable neuroscience research, and would leave the public, who fund this work, justifiably upset," he said.

Researchers said in letter at Geneva University that while simulations were valuable they would not be enough to explain the functioning of brain. 

"There is a danger that Europe thinks it is investing in a big neuroscience project here, but it's not. It's an IT project," said Alexandre Pouget, a signatory of the letter. "They need to widen the scope and take advantage of the expertise we have in neuroscience. It's not too late. We can fix it. It's up to Europe to make the right decision."

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