Blue Brain – The Future Generation

DOI : 10.17577/IJERTCONV3IS30024

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Blue Brain – The Future Generation

Loshima Lohi

Ad-Hoc Faculty Carmel College Mala

Abstract–Human brain is the most valuable creation of God. The man is intelligent because of the brain. Blue brain is the name of the worlds first virtual brain. That means a machine can function as human brain. Today scientists are in research to create an artificial brain that can think, response, take decision, and keep anything in memory. The main aim is to upload human brain into machine. So that man can think, take decision without any effort. After the death of the body, the virtual brain will act as the man .So, even after the death of a person we will not lose the knowledge, intelligence, personalities, feelings and memories of that man that can be used for the development of the human society.

Keywords: – Nanobotes, Neurons, Sensory System, Blue Brain


    The Blue Brain Project is an attempt to reverse engineer the human brain and recreate it at the cellular level inside a computer simulation. The project was founded in May 2005 by Henry Markham at the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland., Switzerland. Goals of the project are to gain a complete understanding of the brain and to enable better and faster development of brain disease treatments. The research involves studying slices of living brain tissue using microscopes and patch clamp electrodes. Data is collected about all the many different neuron types. This data is used to build biologically realistic models of neurons and networks of neurons in the cerebral cortex. The simulations are carried out on a Blue Gene supercomputer built by IBM. Hence the name "Blue Brain". The simulation software is based around Michael Hines's NEURON, together with other custom-built components. As of August 2012 the largest simulations are of micro circuits containing around 100 cortical columns(image above right). Such simulations involve approximately 1 million neurons and 1 billion synapses.This is about the same scale as that of a honey bee brain. It is hoped that a rat brain neocortical simulation (~21 million neurons) will be achieved by the end of 2014. A full human brain simulation (86 billion neurons) should be possible by 2023 provided sufficient funding is received.


    The IBM is now developing a virtual brain known as the Blue brain. It would be the worlds first virtual brain. Within 30 years, we will be able to scan ourselves into the computers. We can say it as Virtual Brain i.e. an artificial brain, which is not actually a natural brain, but can act as a brain. It can think like brain, take decisions based on the past experience, and respond as a natural brain. It is

    possible by using a super computer, with a huge amount of storage capacity, processing power and an interface between the human brain and artificial one. Through this interface the data stored in the natural brain can be up loaded into the computer. So the brain and the knowledge, intelligence of anyone can be kept and used for ever, even after the death of the person.


    Today we are developed because of our intelligence. Intelligence is the inborn quality that cannot be created

    .Some people have this quality, so that they can think up to such an extent where other cannot reach. Human society is always in need of such intelligence and such an intelligent brain to have with. But the intelligence is lost along with the body after the death. The virtual brain is a solution to it. The brain and intelligence will be alive even after the death. We often face difficulties in remembering things such as people names, their birthdays, and the spellings of words, proper grammar, important dates, history facts, and etcetera. In the busy life everyone wants to be relaxed. Cant we use any machine to assist for all these? Virtual brain may be a better solution for it. What will happen if we upload ourselves into computer, we were simply aware of a computer, or maybe, what will happen if we lived in a computer as a program?


    First, it is helpful to describe the basic manners in which a person may be uploaded into a computer. Raymond Kurzweil recently provided an interesting paper on this topic. In it, he describes both invasive and noninvasive techniques. The most promising is the use of very small robots, or nanobots. These robots will be small enough to travel throughout our circulatory systems. Travelling into the spine and brain, they will be able to monitor the activity and structure of our central nervous system. They will be able to provide an interface with computers that is as close as our mind can be while we still reside in our biological form. Nanobots could also carefully scan the structure of our brain, providing a complete readout of the connections between each neuron. They would also record the current state of the brain. This information, when entered into a computer, could then continue to function like us. All that is required is a computer with large enough storage space and processing power.


    The human ability to feel, interpret and even see is controlled, in computer like calculations, by the magical nervous system. Yes, the nervous system is quite like magic because we cant see it, but its working through electric impulses through your body. One of the worlds most "intricately organized" electron mechanisms is the nervous system. Not even engineers have come close for making circuit boards and computers as delicate and precise as the nervous system. To understand this system, one has to know the three simple functions that it puts into action: sensory input, integration, motor output.

    1. Sensory input:

      When our eyes see something or our hands touch a warm surface, the sensory cells, also known as Neurons, send a message straight to your brain. This action of getting information from your surrounding environment is called sensory input because we are putting things in your brain by way of your senses.

    2. Integration:

      Integration is best known as the interpretation of things we have felt, tasted, and touched with our sensory cells, also known as neurons, into responses that the body recognizes. This process is all accomplished in the brain where many neurons work together to understand the environment.

    3. Motor Output:

    Once our brain has interpreted all that we have learned, either by touching, tasting, or using any other sense, then our brain sends a message through neurons to effecter cells, muscle or gland cells, which actually work to perform our requests and act upon the environment. How we see, hear, feel, smell, and take decision.


    Comparison between Natural and Simulated Brain

    past things. To remember things we force the neurons to represent certain states of the brain permanently or for any interesting or serious matter this is happened implicitly.

    Processing: When we take decision, think about something, or make any computation, logical and arithmetic computations are done in our neural circuitry. The past experience stored and the current inputs received are used and the states of certain neurons are changed to give the output.

    Simulated Brain

    Input: In a similar way the artificial nervous system can be created. The scientist has created artificial neurons by replacing them with the silicon chip. It has also been tested that these neurons can receive the input from the sensory cells. So, the electric impulses from te sensory cells can be received through these artificial neurons.

    Interpretation: The interpretation of the electric impulses received by the artificial neuron can be done by means of registers. The different values in these register will represent different states of brain.

    Output: Similarly based on the states of the register the output signal can be given to the artificial neurons in the body which will be received by the sensory cell.

    Memory: It is not impossible to store the data permanently by using the secondary memory. In the similar way the required states of the registers can be stored permanently and when required these information can be received and used

    Processing: In the similar way the decision making can be done by the computer by using some stored states and the received input and the performing some arithmetic and logic calculations.

    Natural Brain

    Input:In the nervous system in our body the neurons are responsible for the message passing. The body receives the input by sensory cells. This sensory cell produces electric impulses which are received by neurons. The neurons transfer these electric impulses to the brain.

    Interpretation:The electric impulses received by the brain from neurons are interpreted in the brain. The interpretation in the brain is accomplished by means of certain states of many neurons.

    Output:Based on the states of the neurons the brain sends the electric impulses representing the responses which are further received by sensory cell of our body to respond neurons in the brain at that time.

    Memory: There are certain neurons in our brain which represent certain states permanently. When required, this state is represented by our brain and we can remember the


    The primary software used by the BBP for neural simulations is a package called NEURON. This was developed starting in the 1990s by Michael Hines at Yale University and John Moore at Duke University. It is written in C, C++, and FORTRAN. The software continues to be under active development and, as of July 2012, is currently at version 7.2. It is free and open source software, both the code and the binaries are freely available on the website. Michael Hines and the BBP team collaborated in 2005 to port the package to the massively parallel Blue Gene supercomputer.

    Figure 1: NEURON cell builder window

    Workflow of Neuron

    The simulation step involves synthesizing virtual cells using the algorithms that were found to describe real neurons. The algorithms and parameters are adjusted for the age, species, and disease stage of the animal being simulated. Every single protein is simulated, and there are about a billion of these in one cell. First a network skeleton is built from all the different kinds of synthesized neurons. Then the cells are connected together according to the rules that have been found experimentally. Finally the neurons are functionalized and the simulation brought to life. The patterns of emergent behaviors are viewed with visualization software.

    A basic unit of the cerebral cortex is the cortical column. Each column can be mapped to one function, e.g. in rats one column is devoted to each whisker. A rat cortical column has about 10,000 neurons and is about the size of a pinhead. The latest simulations, as of November 2011, contain about 100 columns, 1 million neurons, and 1 billion synapses. A real life rat has about 100,000 columns in total, and humans have around 2 million. Techniques are being developed for multiscale simulation whereby active parts of the brain are simulated in great detail while quiescent parts are not so detailed.

    Every two weeks a column model is run. The simulations reproduce observations that are seen in living neurons. Emergent properties are seen that they require larger and larger networks. The plan is to build a generalized simulation tool, one that makes it easy to build circuits. There are also plans to couple the brain simulations to avatars living in a virtual environment, and eventually also to robots interacting with the real world. The ultimate aim is to be able to understand and reproduce human consciousness.


    The BBP-SDK (Blue Brain Project – Software Development Kit) is a set of software classes (APIs) that allows researchers to utilize and inspect models and simulations. The SDK is a C++ library wrapped in Java and Python.

    Visualizations of results

    Figure 2: RTNeuron visualization of a neuron RTNeuron

    RTNeuron is the primary application used by the BBP for visualization of neural simulations. The software was developed internally by the BBP team. It is written in C++ and OpenGL. RTNeuron is ad-hoc software written specifically for neural simulations, i.e. it is not generalisable to other types of simulation. RTNeuron takes the output from Hodgkin-Huxley simulations in NEURON and render them in 3D. This allows researchers to watch as activation potentials propagate through a neuron and between neurons. The animations can be stopped, started and zoomed, thus letting researchers interact with the model. The visualizations are multi-scale that is they can render individual neurons or a whole cortical column. The image right was rendered in RTNeuron.


    Blue Gene/P The primary machine used by the Blue Brain Project is a Blue Gene supercomputer built by IBM. This is where the name "Blue Brain" originates from. IBM agreed in June 2005 to supply EPFL with a Blue Gene/L as a "technology demonstrator". The IBM press release did not disclose the terms of the deal. In June 2010 this machine was upgraded to a Blue Gene/P. The machine is installed on the EPFL campus in Lausanne (Google map) and is managed by CADMOS (Center for Advanced Modeling Science).

    Blue Gene/P technical specifications

    • 4,096 quad-core nodes

    • Each core is a PowerPC 450, 850 MHz

    • Total: 56 teraflops, 16 terabytes of memory

    • 4 racks, one row, wired as a 16x16x16 3D torus

    • 1 PB of disk space, GPFS parallel file system

    • Operating system: Linux SuSE SLES 10

    This machine peaked at 99th fastest supercomputer in the world in November 2009.

    Figure 3: Blue brain Storage rack

    Figure 4: Blue brain Storage hierarchy


    The uploading is possible by the use of small robots known as the Nanobots .These robots are small enough to travel throughout our circulatory system. Travelling into the spine and brain, they will be able to monitor the activity and structure of our central nervous system. They will be able to provide an interface with computers that is as close as our mind can be while we still reside in our biological form. Nanobots could also carefully scan the structure of our brain, providing a complete readout of the connections. This information, when entered into a computer, could then continue to function as us. Thus the data stored in the entire brain will be uploaded into the computer.

    Merits and demerits

    With the blue brain project the things can be remembered without any effort, decisions can be made without the presence of a person. Even after the death of a man his intelligence can be used. The activity of different animals can be understood. That means by interpretation of the electric impulses from the brain of the animals, their thinking can be understood easily. It would allow the deaf to hear via direct nerve stimulation, and also be helpful for many psychological diseases.

    Due to blue brain system human beings will become dependent on the computer systems. Technical knowledge may be misused by hackers; Computer viruses will pose an increasingly critical threat. The real threat, however, is the fear that people will have of new technologies. That fear may culminate in a large resistance. Clear evidence of this type of fear is found today with respect to human cloning.

    What can we learn from Blue Brai?

    Detailed, biologically accurate brain simulations offer the opportunity to answer some fundamental questions about

    the brain that cannot be addressed with any current experimental or theoretical approaches. Understanding complexity At present, detailed, accurate brain simulations are the only approach that could allow us to explain why the brain needs to use many different ion channels, neurons and synapses, a spectrum of receptors, and complex dendritic and axonal arborizations.


    1. Gathering and Testing 100 Years of Data.

    2. Cracking the Neural Code

    3. Understanding Neocortical Information Processing

    4. A Novel Tool for Drug Discovery for Brain Disorders

    5. A Global Facility

    6. A Foundation for Whole Brain Simulations

    7. A Foundation for Molecular Modeling of Brain Function


    Jan 3, 2012

    FET Flagships mid-term conference presentation is now available online: Introducing the Human Brain Project

    Mar 30, 2012

    The ETH Board has requested CHF 85 million (70 m) from the Swiss government to fund the Blue Brain Project during 2013 to 2016.

    May 24, 2012

    New video of Henry Markram talking about the Blue Brain Project. Includes Markram's thoughts on consciousness, autism, and the Human Brain Project. Recorded in Barcelona on May 22, 2012.

    Jun 11, 2012

    Scientific American has published a featured article by Henry Markram. Available online behind a $6 paywall: A countdown to a digital simulation of every last neuron in the human brain. See also the associated video animation: Neuron to cortical column

    Jun 20, 2012

    Two newly published video talks which share lots of detail about the Blue Brain Project simulations and visualisations. The talks were given at the INCF MultiscaleModeling Program Workshop in Stockholm on May 31 and June 1, 2012.

    Juan Hernando – Challenges in visual analysis of multi- scale tissue simulations.Daniel Keller – A Multiscalar Approach to Subcellular Modeling in the Cortical Column July 9, 2012

    The FET Flagship Pilots final conference took place in Brussels today. Results of the recently-completed one-year pilot phase of the Human Brain Project (HBP) were presented. See the 108-page HBP report, as well as

    the conference statement by EC vice-president NeelieKroes. During autumn 2012 the EU will consider the HBP and five other candidate science projects. In February 2013 a decision will be made on which of the two candidates will each receive 1 billion in funding over ten years. The chosen two projects will then run from 2013 to 2023. If the HBP is chosen, the Blue Brain Project will become a central part of it.


In conclusion, we will be able to transfer ourselves into computers at some point. Most arguments against this outcome are seemingly easy to circumvent. They are either simple minded, or simply require further time for technology to increase. The only serious threats raised are also overcome as we note the combination of biological and digital technologies. While the road ahead is long, already researches have been gaining great insights from their model. Using the Blue Gene supercomputers, up to

100 cortical columns, 1 million neurons, and 1 billion synapses can be simulated at once. This is roughly equivalent to the brain power of a honey bee. Humans, by contrast, have about 2 million columns in their cortices. Despite the sheer complexity of such an endeavor, it is predicted that the project will be capable of this by the year 2023.


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  5. Reconstructing the Heart of Mammalian Intelligence, Henry Markrams lecture, March 4 2008.

  6. Henry Markram builds a brain in supercomputer, TED conference July 2009

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