Science

Supercomputer Simulates Half a Mouse Brain

Posted 28 Apr 2007 at 14:32 UTC (updated 28 Apr 2007 at 15:13 UTC) by steve Share This

The BBC reports on a recent cortical simulation experiment run on one of the older IBM BlueGene/L supercomputer prototypes. The goal of the researchers is to create a complete, real-time simulation of a mouse brain. The current run simulated only half of a scaled down mouse brain consisting of 8000 neurons, each with 6300 synapses. Half of a real mouse brain has about eight million neurons, each with 8000 synapses. The IBM BlueGene/L prototype used, probably the DD2, has a relatively modest 4096 processers with 256MB of memory each. The BlueGene/L computers run SUSE SLES 9 Linux and are among the fastest computers on Earth. While the DD2 comes in at only 11 TeraFLOPS, the production model BlueGene/L tops the list at 360 TeraFLOPS. The computer could run a simulation of this complexity with a resolution of 1ms and a neural firing rate of 1Hz, or about 1/10 of realtime. So one second of simulated mouse thoughts took 10 seconds to calculate. The researchers claim to have seen "biologically consistent dynamical properties", including the spontaneous formation of neuron groups and the staggered, co-ordinated firing of synapses. A few more details can be found in the short project description document, Towards Real-Time, Mouse-Scale Cortical Simulations (PDF format).

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