The best and most accurate ever simulation of the human brain activity has been tested on a Japanese supercomputer. It was quite successful, but just one second of activity took the machine calculate it for about 40 minutes.
Scientists and engineers used the K computer in Japan, whoch is said to be the fourth most powerful computer in the world, to simulate human brain activity.
The machine has 705,024 processor cores and 1.4 million GB of RAM, but it still requires lots of time to simulate just one second of brain activity.
“The project, a joint enterprise between Japanese research group RIKEN, the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University and Forschungszentrum Jülich, an interdisciplinary research center based in Germany, was the largest neuronal network simulation to date,” The Telegraph reports.
The supercomputer used the open-source Neural Simulation Technology (NEST) tool to work like a network consisting of 1.73 billion nerve cells connected by 10.4 trillion synapses.
“While significant in size, the simulated network represented just one per cent of the neuronal network in the human brain. Rather than providing new insight into the organ the project’s main goal was to test the limits of simulation technology and the capabilities of the K computer,” the publications adds.
The experiment showed the researched the way they should follow when creating a new version of the machine that would simulate human brain activity.
Which is more, the results may appear useful for neuroscientists showing what can be achieved by using the next generation of computers – so-called exascale computing.
Now there is no computer in the world in existence that powerful, but Intel has revealed that it has plans to create such a machine in operation by 2018.
“If petascale computers like the K computer are capable of representing one per cent of the network of a human brain today, then we know that simulating the whole brain at the level of the individual nerve cell and its synapses will be possible with exascale computers – hopefully available within the next decade,” said one of the scientists, Markus Diesmann.
By the way, the achieved during the experiment results are believed to help neuroscience researchers better understand mental diseases.
Today, they say, the supercomputer mimicking isn’t providing any new understanding into how the brain thinks, but it’s a sign of what’s possible in the future.
“It’s a bit like building a super-connected motorway network, populated with simulated cars, but not yet looking at how that road network reacts to the holiday road rush,” wrote brain researcher Peter Mcowan on Medical Xpress.
“But there’s no doubt that such giant scale simulations will soon yield answers to mysteries about how our brains operate, how we learn, how we perceive, and perhaps even how we feel.”
Kenji Doya of OIST, currently leading a project aiming to understand the neural control of movement and the mechanism of Parkinson’s disease, says: “The new result paves the way for combined simulations of the brain and the musculoskeletal system using the K computer. These results demonstrate that neuroscience can make full use of the existing peta-scale supercomputers.”