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Novel computer mimics human brain networks

Press Trust of India  |  Berlin 

Scientists have developed a computer that mimics the brain's neural networks, and could overcome the speed and power consumption problems of conventional supercomputers.

The custom-built computer named produced results similar to that of the best brain-software currently used for neural-signalling research,

The system may help advance our knowledge of in the brain, to include learning and such as and

"can support detailed biological models of the cortex - the outer layer of the brain that receives and processes information from the senses - delivering results very similar to those from an equivalent software simulation," said Sacha van Albada, from the in Germany.

"The ability to run large-scale detailed quickly and at low power consumption will advance robotics research and facilitate studies on learning and brain disorders," said Albada, of the study published in the journal Frontiers in

The human brain is extremely complex, comprising 100 billion interconnected brain cells.

We understand how individual neurons and their components behave and communicate with each other and on the larger scale, which areas of the brain are used for sensory perception, action and cognition.

However, we know less about the translation of neural activity into behaviour, such as turning thought into muscle movement.

software has helped by simulating the exchange of signals between neurons, but even the best on the fastest supercomputers to date can only simulate one per cent of the human brain.

"It is presently unclear which is best suited to study whole-brain networks efficiently," said Markus Diesmann, a at the

"Today's supercomputers require several minutes to simulate one second of real time, so studies on processes like learning, which take hours and days in real time are currently out of reach," said Diesmann.

"There is a huge gap between the of the brain and today's supercomputers. Brain-inspired allows us to investigate how close we can get to the of the brain using electronics," he said.

Developed over the past 15 years and based on the structure and function of the human brain, - part of the Neuromorphic Platform of the Human Brain Project - is a custom-built computer composed of half a million of simple elements controlled by its own software.

The researchers compared the accuracy, speed and of SpiNNaker with that of NEST - a currently in use for brain neuron-signalling research.

"The simulations run on NEST and SpiNNaker showed very similar results," said Steve Furber, a at the in the UK.

"This is the first time such a detailed of the cortex has been run on SpiNNaker, or on any neuromorphic platform. SpiNNaker comprises 600 circuit boards incorporating over 500,000 small processors in total," said Furber.

"The described in this study used just six boards - one per cent of the total capability of the machine. The findings from our research will improve the software to reduce this to a single board," he said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, July 12 2018. 13:36 IST