European Union

BrainScaleS (Brain-inspired multiscale computation in neuromorphic hybrid systems) is an EU FET-Proactive FP7 funded research project. The project started on 1 January 2011. It is a collaboration of 18 research groups from 10 European countries.

News from BrainScaleS also at BrainScaleS on twitter

The Participants

Uniklinik RWTHAachen, Aachen; Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, Amsterdam; Universitetet For Miljo Og Biovitenskap, Aas; Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona; University of Cambridge, Cambridge; Debreceni Egyetem, Debrecen; Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden; CNRS-UNIC, Gif-sur-Yvette; CNRS-INT, Marseille; AMU, Marseille; TUG, Graz; Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Heidelberg; Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Jülich; EPFL LCN, Lausanne; EPFL-BBP, Lausanne; The University Of Manchester, Manchester; INRIA, Sophia Antipolis; KTH, Stockholm; Universität Zürich, Zürich

The Scientific Challenge

The BrainScaleS project aims at understanding function and interaction of multiple spatial and temporal scales in brain information processing.

The fundamentally new approach of BrainScaleS lies in the in-vivo biological experimentation and computational analysis. Spatial scales range from individual neurons over larger neuron populations to entire functional brain areas. Temporal scales range from milliseconds relevant for event based plasticity mechanisms to hours or days relevant for learning and development. In the project generic theoretical principles will be extracted to enable an artificial synthesis of cortical-like cognitive skills. Both, numerical simulations on petaflop supercomputers and a fundamentally different non-von Neumann hardware architecture will be employed for this purpose.

Neurobiological data from the early perceptual visual and somatosensory systems will be combined with data from specifically targeted higher cortical areas. Functional databases as well as novel project-specific experimental tools and protocols will be developed and used. New theoretical concepts and methods will be developed for understanding the computational role of the complex multi-scale dynamics of neural systems in-vivo. Innovative in-vivo experiments will be carried out to guide this analytical understanding.

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The neuromorphic waferscale system in Heidelberg, Jan 2013 (larger image)

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Design drawing of the
BrainScaleS Neural Network Hardware Module
using wafer scale integration (larger image)

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20 Jan 2012: spiking neuron on the first
running wafer module (larger image)

Multiscale architectures will be synthesized into a non-von Neumann computing device realised in custom designed electronic hardware. The proposed Hybrid Multiscale Computing Facility (HMF) combines microscopic neuromorphic physical model circuits with numerically calculated mesoscopic and macroscopic functional units and a virtual environment providing sensory, decision-making and motor interfaces. The project also plans to employ petaflop supercomputing to obtain new insights into the specific properties of the different hardware architectures. A set of demonstration experiments will link multiscale analysis of biological systems with functionally and architecturally equivalent synthetic systems and offer the possibility for quantitative statements on the validity of theories bridging multiple scales. The demonstration experiments will also explore non-von Neumann computing outside the realm of brain-science.

Together with other projects and groups the BrainScaleS consortium made important contributions to the preparation of the Human Brain Project (HBP). The HBP recently passed (28 Januray 2012. press kit) the extensive scientific evaluation as an FET flagship and is now expected to start in the second half of 2013. This project will address the understanding and exploitation of information processing in the human brain as one of the major intellectual challenges of humanity with vast potential applications.

More information

The BrainScaleS project builds on the research carried out in the FACETS project (2005-2010) and will for the planned student education work together with the Marie-Curie initial training network FACETS-ITN.