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Simulated brain mimics human quirks

Model doesn't just calculate but turns decisions into actions

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10:25pm, November 29, 2012

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A new computer simulation of the brain can count, remember and gamble. And the system, called Spaun, performs these tasks in a way that’s eerily similar to how people do.

Short for Semantic Pointer Architecture Unified Network, Spaun is a crude approximation of the human brain. But scientists hope that the program and efforts like it could be a proving ground to test ideas about the brain.  

Several groups of scientists have been racing to construct a realistic model of the human brain, or at least parts of it. What distinguishes Spaun from other attempts is that the model actually does something, says computational neuroscientist Christian Machens of the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in Lisbon, Portugal. At the end of an intense computational session, Spaun spits out instructions for a behavior, such as how to reproduce a number it’s been shown. “And of course, that’s why the brai

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