What is the Human Brain Project?

What is the Human Brain

Understanding the human brain is one of the greatest challenges facing 21st century science. If we can rise to the challenge, we can gain profound insights into what makes us human, develop new treatments for brain disease and build revolutionary new computing technologies. Today, for the first time, modern ICT has brought these goals within sight.

An Overview of the Human Brain Project


Unifying our understanding of the human brain


Catalyzing open science and global collaboration


Defining and diagnosing brain diseases and disorders


Training the next generation of scientists


Advancing the frontiers of brain-inspired technology


Responsible Research and Innovation

The Human Brain Project (HBP) is a European Commission Future and Emerging Technologies Flagship that aims to accelerate our understanding of the human brain, make advances in defining and diagnosing brain disorders, and develop new brain-like technologies.

The HBP is organized in thirteen subprojects, spanning strategic neuroscience data, cognitive architectures, theory, ethics and society, management and the development of six new informatics-based platforms including:

  • Neuroinformatics (searchable atlases and analysis of brain data)
  • Brain Simulation (building and simulating multi-level models of brain circuits and functions)
  • Medical Informatics (analyzing clinical data to better understand brain diseases)
  • Neuromorphic Computing (brain-like functions implemented in hardware)
  • Neurorobotics (testing brain models and simulations in virtual environments)
  • High Performance Computing (providing the necessary computing power)

These platforms will be accessible through the HBP Collaboratory – an internet portal specifically designed to enable and enhance collaboration and team science. These platforms will also serve as the focal point for an educational programme designed to engage and train the next generation of scientists. All this research will be closely monitored to ensure the ethical use of data and responsible research and innovation with active roles for scientists, philosophers, ethicists, policy makers and members of society.

A major goal of the HBP is to deliver a collaboratively built first draft "scaffold" model and simulation of the human brain by 2023. This will not be a complete simulation of every detail, but rather provide a framework for integrating data and knowledge related to the structure and function of the human brain from research and clinical studies around the world. The model and simulations will provide a community test bed for hypotheses and theories of brain function in health and disease. This scaffold model will therefore serve as the heart of a global collaboration to understand the brain.

SP1 Strategic Mouse Brain Data

Researchers are using a combination of molecular and cellular approaches to contribute to our understanding of mouse brain structure. These data will facilitate a comparative understanding of the mouse and human brains and will be used in SP5's Mouse Brain Atlas

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