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Grant of powerful computer to Rutgers-Newark will increase understanding of brain activity

(NEWARK) Rutgers-Newark has been chosen as one of only 19 research universities nationwide to receive a powerful new state-of-the-art computer through a grant from Hewlett-Packard. The computer will be used to dramatically enhance scientists' ability to analyze brain activity and will give them the computing power to develop an educational visual model of a brain in action, which will be created for the Newark Museum.

"What we want to do is to build an understanding of the network of correlations and transmissions between the various elements of the brain as it goes about performing tasks," said Stephen Hanson, chairman of Rutgers-Newark's psychology department and director of the university's RUMBA (Rutgers University Mind/Brain Activity) project.

The Hewlett-Packard Itanium II Workstation was provided as a grant which required that both stringent research and educational criteria be met to the RUMBA project. It will be linked with the Rutgers psychology department's newly acquired, highly powerful 28-node Opteron computer cluster and a fiber-channel data storage system capable of holding a trillion bytes of information. As a result, analyses of the immense amounts of data generated by human brain scans that would previously have taken months to complete can now be finished in days, according to Hanson.

The grant will dramatically enhance scientists' ability to analyze what is going on the brain and why.

For example, Hanson said, a series of simultaneous vertical and horizontal scans of selected cross-sections of an active human brain produces images of small cubic areas of tissue that can then be studied in detail. However, monitoring a single second of brain activity in this way typically results in 300,000 to 500,000 variables. Before investigators can begin to postulate why the brain handles a task in a particular manner, they first need to collate all of these variables to get a clear picture of how they are interacting an
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Contact: Michael Sutton
msutton@andromeda.rutgers.edu
973-353-5262
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
15-Oct-2003


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