The Blue Brain Project


IBM's Blue Gene supercomputer allows a quantum leap in the level of detail at which the brain can be modelled. I argue that the time is right to begin assimilating the wealth of data that has been accumulated over the past century and start building biologically accurate models of the brain from first principles to aid our understanding of brain function and dysfunction.

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Figure 1: The Blue Gene/L supercomputer architecture.
Figure 2: Elementary building blocks of neural microcircuits.
Figure 3: Reconstructing the neocortical column.
Figure 4: The data manipulation cascade.


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I am grateful for the efforts of all my students, especially Y. Wang, A. Gupta, M. Toledo and G. Silberberg, in carrying out such challenging experiments and producing such incredible data. I thank P. Aebischer, G. Margaritondo, F. Avellan, G. Parisod and the entire EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) administration for their support of this project and for acquiring Blue Gene. I thank IBM (International Business Machines) for making this prototype supercomputer available and for their major support of neuroscience. I also thank SGI (Silicon Graphics, Inc.) for their major initiative to help with the visualization of the Blue Brain. I thank P. Goodman for his long-standing support of our reconstruction efforts and for introducing me to the Blue Gene initiative in 2000. Thanks also to the US Office of Naval Research for their support. I thank I. Segev, who is and will be essential to the success of the project, and G. Shepherd for their valuable comments on the manuscript.

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Markram, H. The Blue Brain Project. Nat Rev Neurosci 7, 153–160 (2006).

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