82 scientists and engineers simulate 37 million synapses in massive Blue Brain Project
The Blue Brain Project, the simulation core of the European Human Brain Project, has released a draft digital reconstruction of the neocortical microcircuitry of a piece of the rat-brain neocortex — about a third of a cubic millimeter of brain tissue containing about 30,000 neurons connected by nearly 40 million synapses.
The electrical behavior of the virtual brain tissue was simulated on supercomputers and found to match a range of previous observations made in experiments on the brain, validating its biological accuracy and providing new insights into the functioning of the neocortex. The project has published the full set of experimental data and the digital reconstruction, allowing other researchers to use them.
Although the resulting data collection is one of the most comprehensive to date on a part of the brain, it remains far from sufficient to reconstruct a complete map of the microcircuitry, admits Henry Markram. “We can’t and don’t have to measure everything. The brain is a well-ordered structure, so once you begin to understand the order at the microscopic level, you can start to predict much of the missing data.”
The Open Source Software (in C, C++, Java, Python) produced and used by the Blue Brain Project is available on GitHub.