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Forschungszentrum Jülich - Annual Report 2012

62 Forschungszentrum Jülich | Annual Report 2012 Operation Brain: The Human Brain Project Europe is pooling its scientific expertise for the objective of simulating the hu- man brain on a supercomputer of the future in order to understand it on all levels – from the molecules to the inter- play of entire regions of the brain. On 28 January 2013, the EU chose the Human Brain Project as one of its ‘flag- ships’ in its programme Future and Emerging Technologies, and will fund the project with up to € 1 billion over the next ten years. The project brings together researchers from more than 80 scientific institutions in 23 countries. Forschungszentrum Jülich and its re- search partners in the region – the Jülich Aachen Research Alliance (JARA), the universities of Düsseldorf and Wuppertal, and the German Research School for Simulation Sciences – play a key role in the project. On the one hand, the Jülich scientists contribute their expertise in high-perfor- mance computing. For example, experts at the Jülich Supercomputing Centre (JSC) together with cooperation partners are developing new supercomputers that will able to perform more than a quintillion arithmetic operations per second (exaflop/s), as well as suitable software. Such computers are needed to process the huge amounts of data on the brain that are available worldwide. A dedicated Human Brain supercomputer will be installed by 2020. Brain atlas as a navigation system On the other hand, Jülich scientists at the Institute of Neuroscience and Medi- cine (INM) will obtain new information on the structure and function of individ- ual neurons, entire neuron clusters, and larger networks. “We are creating a vir- tual human brain that covers the spatial organization of the brain from the mo- lecular level right up to the complex sys- tem of functions. This multimodal brain atlas will be the navigation system of the Human Brain Project,” says Prof. Katrin Amunts, director at INM. Prof. Markus Diesmann, also a director at INM, works at the interface between medical research and simulation tech- nology: “We investigate processes in the brain, for example by developing simplified models of neurons, and simu- lating their activity and communication with each other. By comparing our re- sults with experimental data, we can then progressively refine our models until they closely resemble the real network of the brain.” Another director at INM, Prof. Peter Tass, is developing computer models to develop treatments for diseases of the brain such as Parkinson’s. “Our Coordinated Reset technology is a result of this research. It provides a way of purposely disturbing a pathologi- cal synchronization of neuron clusters.” When the scientists have developed a better understanding of the workings of the human brain with the help of the virtual brain model, they will be able to apply this to design even more powerful and extremely energy-efficient comput- ers: after all, the brain requires less en- ergy for its highly complex information processing than a 60-watt incandescent bulb. Jülich researchers at the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine and the Jülich Supercomputing Centre who are involved in the Human Brain Project (from top to bottom): Prof. Markus Dies- mann, Prof. Katrin Amunts, Prof. Peter Tass and Prof. Thomas Lippert. Human Brain Project