The Human Brain Project       (HBP)A proposal under the FET-Flagship program                                              ...
er-based simulations of the brain have the      different types of neuron, how protein ispotential to model and simulate b...
advanced informatics and data analysis            sumption, resilience and robustness, newtools, software to build, simula...
tants) in the home (as domestic helpers,          potential applications. At the same time,carers, and butlers), industry ...
ward is located - would be a major break-      – even beyond current concepts of thethrough for the project and for brain ...
Contacts                                       clude: Jim Austin, Uni of York, UK, Inte-     KTH, Sweden, Modeling; Edvard...
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Human brain project 2010

  1. 1. The Human Brain Project (HBP)A proposal under the FET-Flagship program October 20, 2010Goal ward completely new kinds of infor- muniucation Technologies (ICT) with even mation processing and genuine intel- some of these capabilities would hugelyThe goal of the Human Brain Project (HBP) ligence for robots; enhance our current computers and ICTis to build the informatics, modeling and 4. Develop applications in medical and devices, while opening the road to systemssupercomputing technologies needed pharmacological research, including with completely new simulate and understand the human new diagnostic and disease monitoring To derive such technologies, it will be nec-brain. Major expected advances include tools, simulations of brain disease, and essary to delve deep into the workings ofnew tools to fight the growing impact of simulations of the effects and side ef- the brain and discover the key principlesbrain disease on public health and well fects of drugs. underlying its design and operation. Twobeing, and a new class of technologies key research developments make thiswith brain-like intelligence, to empower possible. The first is the advent of highpeople to make decisions in an increas- Background throughput screening and neuroinformatics,ingly complex information society. which allow scientists to collect and or-More specifically, the HBP will: For at least two and half thousand years, ganize huge volumes of basic and clinical1. Establish a global multidisciplinary humans have tried to understand what it data on the brain. The Allen Brain Atlas program to organize and informatical- means to perceive, to feel, to remember, has demonstrated that large-scale ap- ly analyze basic and clinical data about to reason and to know. Today, this enqui- proaches can be very effective at exposing the brain and to model, simulate and ry has turned into a quest to understand correlations and other patterns in data understand animal and human brains the brain. With the rise in brain disease and in extracting general organizing prin- at all levels of organization, from genes as we adapt to an ever more complex so- ciples. Other large-scale initiatives, such to cognition and behavior; ciety and as life spans increase, the quest as the International Neuroinformatics2. Design and implement an exascale su- has become urgent. And, as if this were Coordinating Facility (INCF), have begun percomputer, with the power and func- not enough, we now have a new reason federating worldwide data. The Human tionality to make these goals feasible, to study the brain: scientists have begun Connectome Project is working to obtain including novel capabilities for real to see it as a source of brain-derived tech- a deeper understanding of the brain’s in- time model building, interactive simu- nologies. ternal connections. However, this kind of lation, visualization and data access; The human brain has capabilities un- informatics-based science, while incred- contribute to longer term prospects for matched by any computer. It is energy- ibly valuable, is not enough, on its own, to brain-inspired supercomputing; efficient and resilient to damage, it can ef- show how the genome “unravels” to pro-3. Derive novel technologies, beginning fortlessly detect and categorize patterns in duce the brain and how the interactions with enhancements to current tele- data, it can store and rapidly retrieve vast between different elements in the brain communications, multimedia, inter- volumes of information, learn, adapt, make support behavior and cognition. This re- net, ambient intelligence, data storage, complex decisions, and pursue goalsm it quires new enabling technologies: mod- real-time data analysis, virtual realty can think abstractly and creatively and ern High Performance Computing (HPC) and and gaming systems, but leading to- develop language. Information and Com- simulation-based science. Supercomput-1
  2. 2. er-based simulations of the brain have the different types of neuron, how protein ispotential to model and simulate biologi- produced, distributed and metabolized incal processes at every possible level of bio- cells, how subcellular organelles and dif-logical organization and thus to reveal the ferent neuron morphologies are formed,complex chains of causation leading from how neurons are organized and connect-genes, molecules, cells and connections, ed in microcircuits, how microcircuits areto behavior and cognition. Brain simula- arranged to form brain regions and howtions can organize and focus biological these regions are connected to form thedata and knowledge and allow us to ad- brain. Understanding these principlesdress the ultimate questions concerning will make it possible to model the hu-the roots of cognition and behavior. They man brain using data collected primarily Neuroscience: investigation of strategic aspectsare the key enabling technology for a new with non-invasive techniques. The same of brain function, critical for brain modeling.approach to brain disease. The knowledge principles will provide a solid foundationthey provide can lay the foundations for a for new clinical diagnostic tools and newcompletely new class of ICT. technologies. The project will build a sequence of bio- physical, phenomenological and abstractThe Project models at various resolutions (molecular, subcellular, cellular) and scales (micro-,The HBP is organized around a unified meso- and macrocircuits, whole brain), andagenda to gather and informatically ana- in different species, including rat, mouse,lyze data on the brain, derive organizing cat, monkey and ultimately humans. Thisprinciples and build brain models with progression will make it possible to learnas much biological detail as technically and transfer principles from one system topossible. As brain science and medicine the next before reaching the human brain.advance the models will evolve to further The multi-scale approach also providesaccelerate our understanding of the brain a natural way of optimizing the use of Screening: large-scale production of data byand its diseases. Building such models computational resources, in which highly high throughput facilities in industry and atrepresents an extreme applications chal- active neurons are simulated at high res- selected universities.lenge that will shape the future of super- olution while simulation of less active neu-computing, and provide the technologies rons uses lower resolution models. The lit-we need to create realistic simulations of mus test for success will be to compare thelife processes. The new simulation tech- emergent properties of model neurons, cir-nology will allow us to trace the causal cuits, systems and brains to the vast bodychains of events leading from genes and of data from experimental neuroscience.molecules to cognition and behavior, and As models are built scientists will refineto design drugs targeting abnormalities them and use them to test their hypoth-leading to disease. Combined with high- eses. Ultimately, we will connect the mod-level mathematical theories of brain els to robots in a closed loop system andfunction, it will be possible to build a new to compare the memory, adaptability, be-class of brain-like hardware devices and haviors and intelligence of brain-enabledcomputer architectures. What follows is a robots to animal and human benchmarksbrief description of the different facets of established by the behavioral and cogni- Neuroinformatics: analysis, standardizationthe project. tive neuroscience communities. and databasing of past and current knowledge; development of tools and techniques toModeling and simulating the brain Facility for Brain Simulation extract fundamental organizing principles.The HBP’s main goal is to pave the way HBP brain modeling and simulation will beto simulating the complete human brain. centered on a specially created Facility forThe task is huge and enormously com- Simulation-Based Brain Research that will in-plex. The project aims to completely solve tegrate results from all the HBP’s activities.the technological challenges involved in The Facility’s Internet portal will providesimulating the human brain down to the access to an integrated research environ-molecular level, and accounting for its ment that includes an HPC infrastruc-multiple levels of organization, develop- ture and a wide variety of tools, data andment and plasticity. Meeting these chal- services accessible remotely to scientistslenges will drive rapid and radical innova- throughout the world. A simulation cock-tions in HPC (see below). Neuroscientists, pit will integrate standardized data fromclinical researchers, and computational neuroscience experiments and industrial-neuroscientists will use informatics and scale screening, clinical and experimen-simulation technologies to facilitate col- tal data on brain disease and models for Brain Probes: development of new nano, micro,laboration, and to derive fundamental all possible levels of brain organization. genetic, optical, and electrical technologies making it possible to study an ever broaderorganizing principles for each level. These The Facility will collaborate with existing range of brain structures and functions inprinciples will allow us to understand EU consortia to provide access to data on greater depth, and more rapidly than ishow genes are differentially expressed in the brain in databases all over the globe, currently possible.2
  3. 3. advanced informatics and data analysis sumption, resilience and robustness, newtools, software to build, simulate, and ana- techniques of data storage and transmis-lyze brain models and to visualize them sion, computing with noisy, error prone,interactively and tools to design custom- and approximate information, adaptiveized simulation experiments, build virtual problem solving, and self-repair. In paral-laboratories and set up teaching facilities. lel with this work, computational neuro- scientists will develop and test cognitiveFacility for High Performance architectures using top down approachesComputing Research based on mathematical theories of brain function. At a relatively early stage of theBuilding models of the complete human project, the combination of the two ap- Clinical Brain Research: exploitation of thebrain will require supercomputers at least proaches will enable the development power of ICT to study the 560 known humana thousand times more powerful than to- of new sensors and measuring devices. brain disorders as an interconnectedday’s largest machines. As the project’s It will also be possible to develop novel complex system (the diseasome); derivationmodeling effort comes closer to simulat- systems for pattern recognition, catego- of constraints for the whole human brain, it will need rization, information retrieval and datadedicated access to progressively larger analysis. As the HBP progresses, it will in-scale systems. Building such computers vestigate more complex applications, inwill demand new solutions for energy con- which brain-like architectures open thesumption, data transmission, resilience, road to systems with genuine intelligence.programmability and interactivity, as well This prospect promises to enormouslyas completely new kinds of functional- enhance and ultimately to transform theity. A particularly important requirement computing and robotics we know interactivity, so that users can engagein real time with data, model building, Facility for Neuroroboticssimulations, visualization, and analysis.The HBP’s strategy will be to find the best Despite numerous attempts that havecombination of existing and new hard- yielded interesting results, no currentware components from computer manu- robot can emulate the cognition and be-facturers and to drive the development of havior of simple animals, let alone of hu- Modeling: capture of structural and functionalthe middleware and other software need- mans. This would require a brain or brain- properties and principles of the brain’s operations in mathematical abstractions.ed to make the new systerms useful and like system. To meet this challenge, theusable for research communities. In line HBP will set up a Facility for Neurorobotics.with this approach, the HBP will create a The first task of the new facility will be tospecial Facility for High Performance Comput- couple detailed brain models on super-ing Research. The first task of the new Facil- computers to virtual and physical robotsity will be to work with manufacturers to in a closed loop. This will make it possibleexplore possible hardware configurations. to study the emergence of cognition andOn this basis, the Facility will proceed to behavior as brain-enabled robots adapt tobuild a customized system that can scale their environment. The second task will beto exascale levels of data storage and pro- to simplify these models in ways that pre-cessing. In a longer-term perspective, the serve desirable cognitive capabilities suchfacility will investigate ways of exploiting as complex pattern recognition, decision-the organizing principles of the brain in making, and goal-oriented behavior. Thisfuture supercomputers. This work will be work will be informed by results frombased on the computing principles, hard- cognitive theory and modeling. The result Simulation: creation of the software requiredware devices and systems developed by will be reduced software and hardware for multi-scale modeling.the Facility for Brain-Derived ICT (see below). architectures suitable for implementation in intelligent robots. Such robots will haveFacility for Brain-Derived ICT many intelligent capabilities completely lacking in current machines. These willTo turn knowledge of the brain into tech- include the ability to create neural repre-nology, it will be necessary to develop sentations of the robot body, and its en-high-level mathematically-based theories vironment (including other animate sys-of brain function, to segment and simplify tems) and their interactions. Such trulymodels of neurons and brain circuitry, embodied intelligence would give the ro-and to derive general principles of brain- bot novel capabilities such as the abilitylike computing. This will be the mission of to interpret the actions of human beingsa new Facility for Brain-Derived ICT. As the and human-made machines with whichHBP builds ever more sophisticated mod- it interacts, goal-oriented navigation inels of the brain, the facility will use simpli- novel environments and abstract actionfied versions of these models as the basis planning in real-world situations. Systems Supercomputing: design and optimization offor increasingly sophisticated hardware with this kind of capability would have an an exascale computer optimized for braindevices and systems. Key low level fea- enormous range of applications for people simulation. Creation and management of antures are likely to include low energy con- on the move (as mobile personal assis- HPC facility for brain modeling and simulation.3
  4. 4. tants) in the home (as domestic helpers, potential applications. At the same time,carers, and butlers), industry (in complex its contributions to knowledge of themanufacturing, and security), health care brain, cognition and behavior will have(assistance for the sick and for elderly important philosophical and conceptualpeople, e-diagnosis, e-surgery), and edu- implications touching on basic conceptscation (as personal educators). of what makes us human Against this background, the HBP will include a majorFacility for Informatics-Based program of activities dedicated to ethical,Clinical Brain Research legal and social issues. The program will bring together scholars in the brain sci-The HBP will drive information-based ap- ences, social sciences, and the humani- Visualization: new techniques for interactiveproaches to brain disorders. To this end it ties to study and discuss relevant issues navigation and steering of supercomputingwill create a special Facility for Informatics- and will use all available channels to en- simulations.Based Clinical Brain Research. The Facil- courage open, well-informed debate, toity will network existing initiatives and dissipate potential public concerns andconsortia, hospitals and clinical research to enhance appreciation of the potentialcenters throughout the world to collect benefits of the project’s work.and standardize large volumes of data re-lated to the diseases of the brain and to Educationfacilitate access to this data by relevantscientistic communities. It will then use The 21st century is witnessing a data delugestatistics, advanced mathematics and driven by the industrialization of many as-informatics to study the differences and pects of the scientific process, especially insimilarities among these diseases, identi- the life science and medicine. The need tofying new diagnostic indicators and deriv- make sense of the growing volume of dataing novel principles of brain organization, is driving a rapid expansion in informatics-that it will re-use in its modeling effort. based and simulation-based science andThe longer-term goal is to build biologi- medicine. The advent of supercomputerscally realistic models of Alzheimer’s and powerful enough to simulate life process- Analytics: analysis of large volumes of dataParkinson’s Disease, schizophrenia, de- es, the development of mathematical ab- using a broad range of mathematical andpression and other brain disorders, and to stractions to describe them, and their ap- statistical techniques.investigate their causes. Detailed comput- plication in simulations and models poseer models of disease will make it possible major challenges for the way we educateto simulate the action of drugs, potential- students and prepare the young research-ly speeding the development of new treat- ers of the future. The HBP consititutes anments and reducing side effects. extreme form of simulation-based re- search and is thus in an ideal position toFacility for Brain Screening teach this new science, and its applications in medicine and technology. The HBP willTo build biologically accurate brain mod- thus exploit the project’s unique technol-els, the HBP will need huge volumes of ogy to build a novel educational platformstandardized data, including data on where the science, medicine and brain-genes, proteins, cells, micro-, meso-, and derived technologies can be demonstratedmacrocircuits, as well as images of the through internet-accessible hands-on in-whole brain. Data on emergent properties teractions in virtual laboratories, lectureof the brain will come from laboratories theaters, and realworld like enviornments Computation: understanding the fundamentaland will be federated by organizations (research labs, hospitals, factories). The mathematical principles of neural compu-such as the INCF, with whom the project project will use this platform as the basis tation and the emergence of intelligence.will collaborate. Obtaining more basic for a unique program of transdisciplinarydata will require large-scale initiatives education for young scientists and tech-like the Allen Brain Atlas for all levels of nologists wishing to build a career in rel-biological organization. The Facility for evant disciplines. Additional educationalBrain Screening will collaborate with indus- activities will disseminate new knowledgetries and university with high throughput generated by the project as it appearsfacilities to launch such initiatives wher- reaching out to the lay public, and to everyever they are required and will drive the level of the educational system.development of novel ICT approaches toscreening in strategic areas (e.g. nano, mi-cro-, and photonic technologies). ImpactEthical, legal and social issues Neuroscience & Medicine The first sign that biologically detailedThe HBP will raise important ethical, le- brain models can support even the sim-gal, social, political and philosophical is- plest form behavior - navigating through Neurorobotics: interfacing virtual and physicalsues both about the research itself and its obstacles or remembering where a re- robots to brain models.4
  5. 5. ward is located - would be a major break- – even beyond current concepts of thethrough for the project and for brain 3D Internet. New insights into the wayscience. Once such models are in place the brain computes, stores and trans-it will be become possible to trace the mits information will generate novel so-genes, molecules, cells, synapses, con- lutions for efficient energy management,nections, pathways, and brain areas in- memory, data movement, resilience andvolved and identify vulnerabilities of the self-repair, addressing the growing chal-system that are implicated in disease. lenges posed by the data deluge andModels displaying more advanced func- laying the foundations for truly brain-tions, such as goal-oriented behavior, ac- inspired supercomputing.tion-planning, reasoning more advanced Brain-derived ICT: construction of neuromorphicintelligence and possibly language, will Brain-derived ICT chips and larger systems derived from thehelp unravel the elementary steps that and Neurorobotics circuitry of the brain.lead to higher cognition and the multi-ple factors responsible for brain disease. In the short-term, brain-derived technolo-Studies of clinical data and of the com- gies will add intelligence to a spectrum ofmonalities and dissimilarities among devices by enhancing image and featurebrain diseases will contribute rapidly to processing, data analysis, information re-medical diagnostics. As the HBP expands trieval, streaming and management of in-its capabilities in molecular modeling, it formation, internet and mobile communi-will become possible to test specific hy- cations, and automated perception-actionpotheses of disease causation and candi- decisions. In the longer term, the HBP willdate treatments based on these hypoth- lay the foundations for a paradigm shift ineses. Simulating drug effects will provide computing and robotics, offering valuablea firm foundation for rational drug de- new capabilities such as, learning, adapt-sign and for shortening the drug design ability, flexibility, goal-oriented behavior,cycle. The impact on medicine, industry and abstract action planning in noveland society will be far reaching. Disease real-world situations. These will allow Education: training students and educatingand drug simulation will also lead to a the development of new types of person- the public about the brain, its diseases anddrastic reduction in the use of animals al computers and hand held devices, as the exploitation of knowledge about the brainin research, thus contributing to the EU’s well as genuinely intelligent robots with in future ICT technologies.goal of replacing, reducing and refining ani- a huge range of potential applications inmal testing. industry, health, education, research and the home.High Performance,Low Energy Computing Hightech and BiotechnologySimulating the Human Brain will drive The HBPs need for industrial scale, highand guide the evolution of supercomput- quality data will drive high throughputing and supercomputing-based simula- screening technology, and will have ation in the life sciences and elsewhere. major impact on European hightech andAccess to data in exascale data centers, biotech SMEs. New technologies from thisinteractive model building, molecu- effort (e.g. new techniques for genomelar level brain simulation, and, visual analysis, single cell transcriptomics andsteering of simulations, will create huge proteomics, cellular resolution wholechallenges for HPC technology. Meeting brain scanning, molecular level whole Society: exploring the societal, ethical and philosophical implications of brain simula-these challenges will make supercom- brain functional imaging) will have a ma- tion and its application to brain disease andputers far more capable, valuable and jor impact across the life sciences. future ICT.far more useful for specialists and non-specialists alike. The project will activelydrive new concepts for cluster-based su- The Consortiumpercomputing and for interactive super-computing. These solutions will allow The project is proposed by a group ofusers to visually explore vast volumes partners from Switzerland, Germany,of data, build complex models, test hy- Sweden, the UK, France, Spain, the Neth-potheses of brain function, simulate erlands, Italy, Austria and other Europeanthe brain, image simulations and anal- and non-European countries, includingyse the brain’s design and operations in representatives of existing large-scalereal-time. The possibility of remote real- initiatives in neuroscience, supercom-time visualization holds the potential to puting, medicine, brain-inspired ICT andmake supercomputing accessible to the robotics and a broad range of computing,general public, creating opportunities hightech, biotech and pharmaceuticalfor mass-market applications including industries, and many major hospitals, Coordination: management of the consortium,e-medicine, and virtual environments healthcare centers and clinics around ensuring efficient integration and self-sus-for schools, business and entertainment the world. tainability.5
  6. 6. Contacts clude: Jim Austin, Uni of York, UK, Inte- KTH, Sweden, Modeling; Edvard Moser, gration; Wanda Andreoni, CECAM, Swit- NUST, Norway, Neuroscience; David Les-Henry Markram, Executive Director, Swit- zerland, Modeling; Alim-Louis Benabid, ter, U Manchester, UK, HPC; Yusuf Leble-zerland, Karlheinz Meier, Executive Co- Grenoble, France, Diseasome; Driss Bouss- bici, EPFL, Switzerland, Neuromorphics;Director, Germany, ICT, Thomas Lippert, aoud, CNRS, France, Diseasome; Matth- Enrico Macil, Polito, Italy, Neuromorphics;Germany, HPC; Sten Grillner, Executive Co- ias Bethge, Bernstein Center, Germany, Corinne Mestais, Grenoble, France; BrainDirector, Sweden, Neuroscience, Richard Retina Modeling; Raymond Campagnolo, Probes; Pierre Magistretti, EPFL, Switzer-Frackowiak, Executive Co-Director, Swit- Grenoble, France, Brain Probes; Angelo land, Neuroscience; Johnny Ottesen, RUC,zerland, Medicine, Torsten Wiesel, Chair- Egidio, U Pavia, Italy, Neuroscience; Sue Denmark, Modeling; Guy Orban, Leu-man of the Scientific Advisory Board. Denham, U Plymouth, UK, Modeling; Peter ven, Belgium, Neuroscience; FrancescoLeading scientists currently working Desain, Donders Institute, Netherlands, Pavone, LENS, Italy, Large-scale Neuro-in the HBP initiative include Jean-Piere Cognition; Markus Diesmann, Riken, Ja- science; Alain Prochianz, CNRS, France,Changeux, Collège de France, France, Eth- pan, Modeling; Hans-Ulrich Dodt, TUW, Neuroscience; Claire Prummel, Grenoble,ics & Society; Javier DeFelipe, UPM, Spain, Austria, Large-Scale Neuroscience; Gregor France, Brain Probes; Ranolfo Romo,Neuroscience; Yadin Dudai, Weizmann Eichele, Max-Plank, Germany, Large-Scale UNAM, Mexico, Neuroscience; Terry Se-Institute, Israel, Ethics & Society; Seth Neuroscience; Mark Ellisman, UCSD, USA, jnowski, Salk, USA, Modeling; Bernd Stahl,Grant, Sanger, UK, Large-scale Neurosci- Neuroinformatics; Tamas Freund, HAS, De Montfort University, UK, Ethics; Leslieence; Andreas Herz, Bernstein Center, Hungary, Neuroscience; Dario Floreano, Smith, U Sterling, UK, Neurorobotics; PaulGermany, Modeling; Sean Hill, EPFL, Neu- EPFL, Switzerland, Neurorobotics; Fer- Tiesinga, Donders Institute, Netherlands,roinformatics, Switzerland; Alois Knoll, nando Ferri, Trier, Germany, Visualization; Neuroscience; Yun Wang, Wenzhou MedTUM, Germany, Neurorobotics; Jose Pena, Steve Furber, U Manchester, UK, Neuro- Coll China, Large-scale Neuroscience;UMP; Spain, Data Analysis; Danny Porath, morphics; Oliver Faugeras, INRIA, France, Paul Verschure, Pompeu Fabra U., Spain,Hebrew U, Israel, Brain Probes; Alois Saria, Modeling; Lyle Graham, CNRS, France, Neurorobotics; Robert Williams, UT, USA,Innsbruck, Austria, Education; Thomas Modeling; Christiane Gamrat, France, Neuroinformatics; Chris Zeeuw, NIN,Schülthess, CSCS, Switzerland, HPC; Felix Neuromorphics; Michael Hausser, UCL, Netherlands, ICT.Schürmann, EPFL, Switzerland, Simula- UK, Neuroscience; Allan Jones, Allen Braintion; Idan Segev, Hebrew U, Israel, Model- Atlas, USA, Large-Scale Neuroscience; Many existing consortia and organiza-ing; Alex Thomson, U of London, UK, Neu- Viktor Jirsa, CNRS, France, Modeling; Mira tions (CECAM, PRACE, etc) and companiesroscience; Antoine Triller, CNRS, France, Marcus-Kalissh, TAU, Israel, Brain Body; in HPC, ICT, Hightech, Biotech, Bioservices,Neuroscience. Marcus Kaiser, Newcastle U, UK, Data and pharmaceuticals have also expressedA large circle of scientists has expressed Analysis; Anders Lansner, KTH, Sweden, their interest in contributing to the proj-their interest in participation. They in- Modeling; Jeanette Hellgren Kotaleski, ect as affiliate partners.6