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Energy Efficient Brain Simulator Outperforms Supercomputers

Neurogrid brain simulator ushers in new level of research

April 24, 2013

In November 2012, IBM announced that it had used the Blue Gene/Q Sequoia supercomputer to achieve an unprecedented simulation of more than 530 billion neurons. The Blue Gene/Q Sequoia accomplished this feat thanks to its blazing fast speed; it clocks in at over 16 quadrillion calculations per second. In fact, it currently ranks as the second-fastest supercomputer in the world.

But, according to Kwabena Boahen, Ph.D., the Blue Gene still doesn't compare to the computational power of the brain itself.

"The brain is actually able to do more calculations per second than even the fastest supercomputer," says Boahen, a professor at Stanford University, director of the Brains in Silicon research laboratory and an NSF Faculty Early Career grant recipient.

That's not to say the brain is faster than a supercomputer. In fact, it's actually much slower. The brain can do more calculations per second because it's "massively parallel," meaning networks of neurons are working simultaneously to solve a great number of problems at once. Traditional computing platforms, no matter how fast, operate sequentially, meaning each step must be complete before the next step is begun.

Boahen works at the forefront of a field called neuromorphic engineering, which seeks to replicate the brain's extraordinary computational abilities using innovative hardware and software applications. His laboratory's most recent accomplishment is a new computing platform called Neurogrid, which simulates the activity of 1 million neurons.

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Regaining Lost Brain Function

By Susan Young on April 23, 2013

How do you make an electronic brain prosthesis that could restore a person’s ability to form long-term memories? Recent experiments by Theodore Berger and his colleagues, including Sam Deadwyler at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and researchers at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, have begun to describe how it might be done.

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Medical College of Wisconsin researcher charged with economic espionage

Feds allege anti-cancer compound was stolen for China

By Bruce Vielmetti of the Journal Sentinel

A researcher at the Medical College of Wisconsin has been charged with stealing a possible cancer-fighting compound and research data that led to its development, all to benefit a Chinese university.

Huajun Zhao, 42, faces a single count of economic espionage, according to a federal criminal complaint, an offense punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

Zhao was arrested Saturday and held without bail over the weekend pending a detention hearing in Milwaukee federal court on Monday, when he was ordered detained until trial. No date has been set.

John Raymond, president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa, said the school is cooperating with the FBI, and directed all other questions to the FBI.

According to the complaint, Zhao worked as an associate researcher at the college, assisting professor Marshall Anderson by conducting experiments in pharmacology.

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