IBM Cat Brain Simulation Dismissed as ‘Hoax’ by Rival Scientist

November 25, 2009 | Source: New York Times

IBM’s claim that it has designed the first brain simulation to exceed the scale of a cat’s cortex is being dismissed as “a hoax and a PR stunt” by Henry Markram, director of the Blue Brain Project in Switzerland, which is also attempting to reverse-engineer mammalian brains.

Markram said the cat brain simulation involves only “point neurons,” which are “missing missing 99.999% of the brain; no branches; no detailed ion channels; the simplest possible equation you can imagine to simulate a neuron, totally trivial synapses.”

“It’s really not as powerful as a cat’s brain in terms of function,” Modha said before last week’s announcement. “What we have developed is an instrument of scientific discovery that can allow us to test various hypotheses of structures, dynamics and functions about the algorithms of the brain.”

The cat brain simulation involved 1 billion spiking neurons and 10 trillion individual learning synapses, and was performed on an IBM Blue Gene/P supercomputer with 147,456 processors and 144TB of main memory.

See also: The Cat is out of the bag