Brain research challenges supercomputing
Katrin Amunts and Thomas Lippert, Science 374 (6571), 1054-1055 (2021)
In vol. 374, issue 6571 of Science, Katrin Amunts and Thomas Lippert explain how advances in neuroscience demand high-performance computing technology and will ultimately need exascale computing power.
The adult human brain contains ∼86 billion neurons (1). Zooming into its cellular and subcellular details to reveal different aspects of neuronal connectivity is a key area of research. However, to link the different spatial scales from the synaptic level (at nanometer range) through single neurons and glial cells (at the micrometer level) to the whole organ is most challenging. Recently, the connectome of Caenorhabditis elegans, with its 302 neurons, has been characterized, and a complete structural-functional model has been proposed (2). A comparable level of detail of the human brain connectome is still a long way off. As such, decoding the human connectome, the mechanisms of signal transduction, and relationships to brain function are linked to exponentially growing challenges in advanced computational and storage technologies, which in turn may lead to creative solutions beyond neuroscience.