Understanding the sub-mechanisms of the brain’s component parts will also be important. The cortical structures, the thalamus, the cerebellum, the hippocampus and the basal ganglia all play roles within the brain that could have technological significance if we can learn to replicate their operation. Additionally, it is not enough to map the connections and topology of our networks of neurons. We need to understand the dynamics, synaptic and structural plasticity of the brain, and genetically-defined developmental programs that are responsible for a large portion of the brain’s wiring.
Alternative approaches to brain-inspired computing include those that consider proposals and hypotheses about how things happen at a cognitive level, elucidating rules and descriptions of behaviour and planning rather than seeking to generate these by emulating neuronal activity. There is still debate over whether analogue or digital processing offers the best route to mimicking the brain, and it is possible that a hybrid system, combining the energy efficiency of analog and the precision of digital, might provide competitive performance.