Using NEST, the team, led by Markus Diesmann in collaboration with Abigail Morrison both now with the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine at Jülich, succeeded in simulating a network consisting of 1.73 billion nerve cells connected by 10.4 trillion synapses. To realize this feat, the program recruited 82,944 processors of the K computer. The process took 40 minutes to complete the simulation of 1 second of neuronal network activity in real, biological, time.
Larger is not always necessarily better. However, given the fact that it takes 40min to simulate 1 second of real biological time neural network, we should feel humble knowing that our understanding of the nervous system is still at its infancy. I wonder if Neuroscience at 21st century stands where Physics stood in 20th century. With the advancements in our abilities to monitor larger biological samples, in vivo and in vitro, as well as our increased capacity to launch large scale in silico simulations and tendency toward neuromorphic computing, we lack one thing: Theory….that is where I hope computational neuroscience can learn from physics community in constructing theories that can fill in pieces of the puzzle. Just simulating bigger and bigger networks or racing to record more and more is not enough.
See on www.riken.jp