Supercomputer mimics stroke-affected brain

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Scientists have teamed up with psychologists at Manchester University to develop a model of speech and language using a computer system 1,000 times more powerful than a standard PC..

The supercomputer will attempt to mimic the part of the brain that controls speech and language in a bid to gain a better understanding of what goes wrong after a stroke.

The £940,000 Chatter Box system is part of a five-year project to create a new breed of computer that uses biological principles to carry out highly complex functions akin to those performed by the human brain.

"The human brain contains about 100 billion nerve cells or neurons that each have to make a simple decision as to whether to 'fire' or not," said computer science professor Steve Furber.

"Each neuron's decision is based on how many other connecting neurons have fired recently.

"When this simple computation is distributed over billions of neurons, it is capable of supporting all the highly complex behavioural characteristics exhibited by humans."

Once completed Chatter Box will build a model of normal human language capable of reading, comprehending, speaking, naming and repeating basic words in English, according to the university.

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