A team of scientists led by Eilif Muller of the Blue Brain Project, have had their INCITE grant renewed for 2018 to provide a further 160 million core hours at the Argonne National Laboratory. INCITE supports computationally intensive, large-scale research projects with large amounts of dedicated time on supercomputers at DOE’s Leadership Computing Facilities. In 2017, INCITE awarded the Blue Brain with 100 million core hours to simulate biophysical synaptic plasticity in reconstructions of the neocortical microcircuit to discover their synergistic functional principles.
During our lifetimes, our brains undergo continuous changes as a consequence of our experiences. Synaptic plasticity—the biological process by which brain activity leads to changes in synaptic connections, is thought to be central to learning and memory. However, little is known about how this process shapes biological neural networks.
With this renewed grant, the team that also includes scientists from the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem will continue to focus on advancing our understanding of these fundamental mechanisms of the brain’s neocortex. The team is carrying out large-scale simulations of recently uncovered biophysical principles underlying synaptic plasticity in reconstructions of a neocortical microcircuit (Markram et al., 2015; 10.1016/j.cell.2015.09.029) consisting of around 200,000 neurons and 260 million synapses. The aim is to shed light on the synergistic functional principles that shape plasticity in realistic cortical circuits.
The team is also using DOE supercomputers to characterize: (1) the role of NMDA receptor spikes in plasticity induction; (2) the dynamics of neuronal assembly formation and maintenance; and (3) the computational impact of synaptic plasticity in common signal processing tasks. In addition to improving our understanding of the brain, this research could help inform the development of enhanced deep learning methods, as well as new learning paradigms for neuromorphic hardware.
Click here to read the INCITE announcement.