Tuesday, 15 January 2019

At Trento University a bionic brain is being created

An interdisciplinary project called “Backup”, coordinated by Lorenzo Pavesi of the Physics Department, is going ahead: Its aim is to offer new solutions to neurological problems like amnesia and epilepsy

Versione stampabile

A bionic brain where cerebral cells (neurons) communicate using luminous signals with optic and electronic circuits.

The expectation is to gain a more in-depth understanding of how the brain works and to discover new solutions to neurological problems such as amnesia and epilepsy. 

This is the futuristic aim that the “Backup”, interdisciplinary project, coordinated by Lorenzo Pavesi of the Physics Department, is focusing on.

In the last few months, members of the project have heard that it will be allocated funding to the tune of 2 and a half million Euro over a period of 5 years from the European Council for Research (specifically, one of the “ERC-Advanced Grants” dedicated to innovative scientific activities). In the last few weeks the research activity has been scheduled and research staff have been taken on, now the group has begun work on the project itself. 

This morning, “Backup”’s official launch took place  at the Ferrrari1 building in Povo in front of the university community. 

Speaking at the presentation were the rector of Trento University, Paolo Collini, and the directors of the centres and departments involved (Giulio Monaco for the Physics Department; Nicu Sebe for the  Information Engineering and Computer Science Department; Alessandro Quattrone for Cibio (the Centre for Integrative Biology); Carlo Miniussi for the interdepartmental Centre for Mind/Brain Sciences).

After Lorenzo Pavesi was introduced, some specific areas of the project were discussed: “Backup and photonics” by Paolo Bettotti (Physics Dept.), “Backup and artificial intelligence” by Nicu Sebe (Information Engineering and Computer Science Dept.), “Backup and memory” by Marco Canossa (Cibio Dept.) and “Backup and Epilepsy” by Yuri bozzi (CIMeC).

Once the open discussion was over, the day’s agenda progressed with working group meetings. 

“Backup” will demonstrate the relationship between cerebral connectivity and function by integrated photonics (the complete title is, in fact, “Unveiling the relationship between brain connectivity and function by integrated photonics”). The project strives to build a hybrid electronic-photonic-biological system, a chip able to emulate the way in which the brain elaborates and memorizes information to create neuromorphic computers, meaning that they are modelled on the brain and succeed in modifying their own connections on the base of experiences.

In the press release are statements by professor Lorenzo Pavesi.