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The Blue Brain Project: building the neocortical column

The Blue Brain Project is an attempt to reverse-engineer and model the neocortical column, to explore how it functions and to serve as a tool for neuroscientists and medical researchers. The project integrates physiological experimental databases, analysis tools, modeling applications, simulation software and 3D interactive visualization to provide a rich environment for the systematic study and calibration of the model to experimental data. To construct the column, electrical models of neurons are first generated from a combination of gene expression, ion channel, cell morphology and electrophysiological data. These models are then placed according to physiological data that constrains the volume constraints, composition and connectivity of the cortical microcircuit. Finally the column is simulated and calibrated in an iterative process to integrate multiple levels of experimental data. This process provides a data-driven modeling framework for large-scale realistic simulations that incorporates many levels of physiological detail and can be extended to capture a wide range of experimentally-observed phenomena.

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Correspondence to Felix Schürmann.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Schürmann, F., Hill, S. & Markram, H. The Blue Brain Project: building the neocortical column. BMC Neurosci 8 (Suppl 2), P109 (2007).

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  • Iterative Process
  • Modeling Framework
  • Simulation Software
  • Modeling Application
  • Physiological Data