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The Human Brain Project

To understand the human brain using simulation – that’s the vision of the Human Brain Project (HBP). In order to make it a reality, researchers from 23 countries are working together to build a unique infrastructure that will allow them to establish and further develop a brain research and information technology network. The European Union supports this plan as part of its FET Flagship Initiative. Jülich scientists contribute their expertise primarily in the areas of structure and function of the brain, as well as supercomputing and simulation.

The Human Brain Project brings together neuroscientists, physicians, computer scientists, physicists, mathematicians and computer specialists from internationally respected scientific institutions in 23 countries. Their goal is to simulate the complete human brain within the next ten years using a supercomputer of the future. The simulation will be accurate in every detail, and will take in aspects such as genetics, the molecular level and the interaction of whole cell clusters.

Forschungszentrum Jülich and its institutes are involved in several areas of research within the Human Brain Project. Scientists at the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM), for example, provide fundamental neurobiological information about the structure and function of individual neurons, entire neuron clusters and larger networks.

Today’s supercomputers do not possess sufficient capacity to record the vast volume of data on the human control centre that is available worldwide or process it for computer simulation. Experts from JSC, together with cooperation partners, are therefore developing a new generation of exaflop computers and suitable software.

The virtual model of the brain will in future make it easier for physicians to understand the structure and function of the healthy and diseased brain, and enable new drugs to be developed and tested. The human control centre will also be used as a model for an extremely powerful and energy-efficient computer, as the brain requires less energy than a 60-watt light bulb for highly complex tasks such as information transfer and processing.

Involvement in bodies of HBP

With the structural reorganisation of the project in 2016, Forschungszentrum Jülich is now also represented in the governance of the HBP. Prof. Wolfgang Marquardt, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Forschungszentrum Jülich and Vice-President of the Helmholtz Association, will represent the interests of Germany as a member state on the HBP's Stakeholder Board (SB). Prof. Katrin Amunts was elected Chair of the Science and Infrastructure Board, which pools the various scientific interests of the project.

More information:

Human Brain Project website

On HBP's government structure (website HBP)