The Bernstein Network's Research Approach
Understanding the brain...
.... still remains one of the biggest scientific challenges. The brain is the seat of all mental functions. At the same time, it is the most complex structure that nature has produced: billions of neurons, linked through trillions of connections, process enormous amounts of information within fractions of seconds by complex, spatio-temporal patterns of electrical activity. To date, technical systems have not even come close to the swift and robust performance of the living brain. Dysfunction of the brain causes severe physical and mental impairments, especially during aging, and are among the most frequent medical disorders.
The new, highly dynamic research discipline of Computational Neuroscience takes up these challenges. It combines biomedical experiments with theoretical models and thereby opens new avenues for scientific insights and technological applications. Together, mathematicians, physicists, biologists, psychologists, physicians and engineers identify principles of brain function and translate them into a mathematical representation. Mathematical models of normal or diseased brain function can be simulated in computers and can be tested there ‘virtually’. Successful theoretical models of brain function can then be applied in newly developed technical systems. The same kind of models can also be used for investigating complex neurological malfunctions.
Changing the Future
Exploiting this strategy, Computational Neuroscience offers fascinating new avenues for facing the challenges of modern society. Computational Neuroscience will allow to develop new, more powerful high tech systems that can tackle previously technically impossible tasks by applying efficient functional principles of the brain. Computational Neuroscience will help to soothe the devastating effects of neurological diseases and aging, by
- developing new approaches for therapies and testing them safely in computer simulations,
- restoring challenged brain functions by new, intelligent implants and prostheses, and
- developing intelligent technical devices with brain-inspired sensors that take care of complex tasks in a reliable and safe way.
Computational Neuroscience research will change our life. The German Bernstein Network will be at the forefront of this endeavour.