The IRCN is organized into Four Complementary Research Units whose collective goal is the creation of the research field of neurointelligence. Each Unit is asked to produce new synergistic research outcomes through joint collaborative research with other Units.
The purpose of the Development Unit is to discover principles of the brain's developmental programs. The brain consists of neural circuits whose neurons connect via multitudinous synapses. The Development Unit is a basic research group that pursues novel principles in neural circuit and brain development. When a human being is in utero , these neural circuits are primarily formed by genetic mechanisms. After birth, brain circuits continue to be customized by exposure to life experience during discrete epochs in the process of brain growth called “critical periods”. The Unit studies the formation of human intelligence from genetic programming in the embryonic and fetal stages and the effects of life experience on neural circuits and brain activity in later developmental stages defined by critical periods. Brain development principles revealed by the Unit will depend on advanced technologies and in turn can serve as guides for advancing clinical research and treatment of disorders in brain development, and for creating detailed mathematical models of the brain to inspire new artificial intelligence. The Unit serves as the biological foundation of the IRCN.
The goal of the Technology Unit is to develop innovative technologies for advancing brain research. The Technology Unit develops technologies and tools for understanding principles of brain development and function. Driving the fundamental and applied research performed by the other Units, the Technology Unit invents and optimizes innovative, cutting-edge technologies to measure and analyze neural activity from individual neurons to entire brains, including the genetic engineering of animals, new recording methods for physiological data, and human imaging methods for the noninvasive monitoring of brain activity. The Unit will also strive to apply computational models to develop new robots and neurofeedback devices. The Unit's production of these tools will aid our understanding of human and machine intelligence and their clinical and A.I. applications.
The mission of the Computation Unit is to build computational brain models for neuro-inspired A.I. The Computation Unit builds computational brain models and neuro-inspired A.I. based on principles of neural circuit development in cooperation with the Development Unit, and systematically analyzes big data utilizing methods based on mathematical science and A.I.. An additional goal of the Unit is to develop brain models for advancing computational psychiatry approaches to clinical diagnosis and treatments conducted by the Human/Clinical Unit. In the current state of psychiatry, clinicians make a diagnosis based on an examination of a patients' clinical data. In computational psychiatry, computational collection and analytical methods applied to big data can extend diagnostic capabilities that can go beyond a clinician's abilities to recognize. The research addressed by the Computation Unit will contribute to a deeper quantitative understanding of human intelligence that will help to improve Artificial intelligence.
The strategy of the Human/Clinical Unit is to solve brain development and disorders of human intelligence. Human brain development is powerfully tuned to enable high intelligence capacities such as language and pattern recognition learning. Conversely, several prevalent brain disorders, such as autism and schizophrenia, have their origins in aberrant brain development. The Human/Clinical Unit studies human brain development and its disorders, based on principles discovered or elaborated by the Development Unit. The Human/Clinical Unit additionally works with the Computation Unit to develop frameworks for computational psychiatry based on the analysis of large patient cohorts with brain disorders. Based on this research, the Unit will operate in a highly transdisciplinary workspace to collaborate with other fields including engineering, humanities and social sciences. The Unit will strive to advance research that will allow access to fundamental questions of human intelligence and how this knowledge can help to build healthier human societies in harmony with technology.