Talk by Christof Koch - ‘Modeling the Human Brain – A Long-Term Perspective’


Event details

Date and time 19.01.2021 17:0018:00  
Place and room
Zoom meeting
Speaker Christof Koch
Category Conferences - Seminars

Blue Brain is delighted to welcome Christof Koch, Chief Scientist, MindScope Program, Allen Institute, Seattle, US for his virtual talk on ‘Modeling the Human Brain – A Long-Term Perspective’.


The best understood cortex is primary visual cortex of the mouse. This is witnessed by state-of-the-art simulation of ~1 mm3 of V1 from the adult mouse, using two different levels of granularity (point neurons, spatially extended HH models). These models, based on the massive Allen Institute databanks functional connectivity and in vivo recordings, replicate in vivo spiking data the model was not trained on in a quantitative manner (Billeh et al., Neuron 2020). It is being extended to include detailed connectivity of electron-microscopically reconstructed data from mouse V1. It is likely that within a few decades such models could be extended to faithfully simulate the brain and the behavior of mice, predicting genuine new phenomena and system-level properties. 

The human brain is three orders of magnitude bigger than the mouse brain. There is currently little evidence to suggest that it is, per unit volume, significantly more complex than the mouse brain. The field is now in the first stages of assembling a dataset of individual human pyramidal neurons and interneurons, based on in vitro data from neurosurgical samples. This provides a first, but limited view, onto the human brain circuits at the cellular level. For the foreseeable future, we will not have access to in vivo cellular data nor synaptic learning rules. This will impose unique limits onto our ability to faithfully simulate the human brain at the micro-functional level over the thirty or more years. 

Short bio: 

Christof Koch, PhD is a neuroscientist best known for his studies and writings exploring the brain basis of consciousness. Trained as a physicist, Koch was for 27 years a professor of biology and engineering at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena before moving to the Allen Institute in Seattle, where he became the Chief Scientist and then the President in 2015. He is now the Chief Scientist of the MindScope Program at the Allen Institute, using the Neuropixels and Mesoscope Brain Observatories to track and analyze the dynamics of tens of thousands of cortical neurons and their linkage to visuo-motor behavior and visual perception in mice. 

Dr. Koch is interested in the biophysics and neurophysiology of cortical tissue, brain-machine interfaces, conscious experiences and what they imply about the mind and the brain. He published his first paper on the neural correlates of consciousness with the molecular biologist Francis Crick more than thirty years ago.

Dr. Koch is a vegetarian who lives in the Pacific North-West, loves big dogs, biking, running, climbing and rowing. His latest book is The Feeling of Life Itself – Why Consciousness is Widespread but Can’t be Computed.

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Practical information

  • Informed public
  • Free


  • Host: Henry Markram


Human Brain cortex simulation Allen Institute data circuits