UNDERSTAND THE HUMAN BRAIN: SCUOLA SUPERIORE SANT’ANNA HOSTS THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE HUMAN BRAIN PROJECT, ONE OF THE FLAGSHIP SELECTED BY THE EUROPEAN UNION

What are the new frontiers to understand the human brain? Could we create a new research model through sharing and comparing of different experiences and skills? The 4th HBP Student Conference on Interdisciplinary Brain Research will take place in the Headquarters of Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (21-23 January 2020). The conference is managed by the Medical University Innsbruck and is aimed at students and post-doc students. It provides an open forum for the exchange of new ideas among young researchers working across various aspects of science relevant to the Human Brain Project (HBP), one of four FET (Future and Emerging Technology) Flagships, the largest scientific projects ever funded by the European Union. The human brain is such a complex system that it can only be understood by combining knowledge and practices from multiple scientific fields. The conference offers a space for extensive scientific dialogue, both intra- and interdisciplinary, among peers and faculty through a variety of discussion sessions, lectures and social events.

Alberto Mazzoni, researcher of The BioRobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna and principal investigator of Computational Neuroengineering Lab, is one of the speakers of the Conference. “The Human Brain Project – explains Mazzoni – was born with the ambition to simulate the nervous system; then the project developed platforms (not only computational) for research in neuroscience. My speech will illustrate the role of mathematical models and nervous system simulation in the development of state-of-the-art upper limb neuroprostheses. As an old scientific paper said: ‘Mathematics Is Biology's Next Microscope, Only Better; Biology Is Mathematics' Next Physics, Only Better’”.

The other speakers of the conference are: Claudia Casellato (Università di Pavia, Italia), Dominik Kutra (EMBL Heidelberg, Germania), Julia Guiomar Niso Galàn (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spagna), Andrew Rowley (University of Manchester, UK), Tilo Schwalger (Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germania), Dieter Sturma (Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germania), Huifang Wang (Aix-Marseille University, Francia).

Egidio Falotico, event organizer and co-leader of Neurobotics sub-project, points out the role of robotics in the Human Brain Project. “Robotics has a strategic role because it simulates behavior at large. Robotics allows researchers to entrust their "body" to any artificial brain and explore how it controls movement and reacts to stimuli. At the same time robots are equipped with brain models derived from neuroscientific studies, and can build more effective and powerful learning rules, almost like living creatures.

Within the HBP project, we developed a platform, the Neurorobotics Platform, where neural models can be connected to robots in a virtual environment. The platform is available online for all researchers who want to perform experiments with robots to verify the validity of brain models. The goal is to provide new interaction capabilities and increasing intelligence for the robots of the future."

Download the full program