Understanding of the most sophisticated and complex machine known to man, the human brain, is set for a major boost thanks to a Pounds 10 million gift for the establishment of a world-class research unit in Britain, writes Julia Hinde.
The Gatsby Foundation, one of the Sainsbury FamilyCharitable Trusts, is behind the setting up of the new Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit at University College London. The unit, which should be up and running by August, will bring together the latest ideas in artificial intelligence, neural networks and statistics to develop computational models of the way the brain operates. It will provide theoretical support to experimental neuroscience research groups at UCL.
The centre, which will work alongside UCL's Institute ofCognitive Neuroscience, has already recruited four of the best researchers in the field, bringing back from North America twoeminent British scientists, Geoffrey Hinton, currently workingat the University of Toronto, who will head the unit, and Peter Dayan from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. Also coming to Britain are Zhaoping Li of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Zoubin Ghahramani from the University of Toronto.