IBM’s Blue Gene Supercomputer Models a Cat’s Entire Brain

Using 144 terabytes of RAM, scientists simulate a cat's cerebral cortex based on 1 billion neurons and 10 trillion synapses

Cats may retain an aura of mystery about their smug selves, but that could change with scientists using a supercomputer to simulate the the feline brain. That translates into 144 terabytes of working memory for the digital kitty mind.

IBM and Stanford University researchers modeled a cat’s cerebral cortex using the Blue Gene/IP supercomputer, which currently ranks as the fourth most powerful supercomputer in the world. They had simulated a full rat brain in 2007, and 1 percent of the human cerebral cortex this year.

The simulated cat brain still runs about 100 times slower than the real thing. But PhysOrg reports that a new algorithm called BlueMatter allows IBM researchers to diagram the connections among cortical and sub-cortical places within the human brain. The team then built the cat cortex simulation consisting of 1 billion brain cells and 10 trillion learning synapses, the communication connections among neurons.

A separate team of Swiss researchers also used an IBM supercomputer for their Blue Brain project, where a digital rat brain’s neurons began creating self-organizing neurological patterns. That research group hopes to simulate a human brain within 10 years.

Another more radical approach from Stanford University looks to recreate the human brain’s messily chaotic system on a small device called Neurogrid. Unlike traditional supercomputers with massive energy requirements, Neurogrid might run on the human brain’s power requirement of just 20 watts — barely enough to run a dim light bulb.

[via AP and PhysOrg]