'Human brain' circuit board works 9,000 times faster than a PC

Scientists at Stanford University hope the Neurogrid could be used to develop prosthetic limbs

The human brain remains largely an enigma; full of unharnessed potential and capable of outsmarting even the most high-tech modern computers.

But a new circuit board developed by scientists at Stanford University in California could help people to understand the true power of their own minds.

The Neurogrid, which is modelled on the human brain, can simulate one million neurons and billions of synapses, or brain connections – far more than other “brain-mimicking” devices.

It is about the size of an iPad and consists of 16 custom-designed “Neurocore” chips, which are 9,000 times faster, and more energy-efficient, than a typical computer, Live Science reported.

Kwabena Boahen, associate professor of bioengineering at Stanford, said: “From a pure energy perspective, the brain is hard to match.”

But Boahen and his fellow bioengineers hope the project could pave the way for advances in robotics and computing, and lead to new ways of understanding how the brain works.

Researchers are now working with other Stanford scientists to develop prosthetic limbs that would be controlled by a Neurocore-like chip. The chip would decode brain signals into movements without overheating the brain.

Currently, only individuals with an understanding of the human brain can programme the Neurogrid – but Boahen plans to create a “neurocompiler” that would allow scientists and engineers without neuroscience knowledge to use the device.

The Neurogrid is just the latest cog in the wheel of an international effort to understand the human brain, including the European Union's Human Brain Project, which aims to simulate a human brain on a supercomputer.

The Stanford researchers are working under the US BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Project, which challenges scientists to develop new tools for measuring brain activity.

Boahen said Neurogrid is the most cost-effective effort developed so far, but each circuit board still costs about $40,00 so the researchers are now working to reduce the cost 100-fold.

However, there’s still a long way to go in terms of matching the power of the human brain.

Boahen said: “The human brain, with 80,000 times more neurons than Neurogrid, consumes only three times as much power. Achieving this level of energy efficiency while offering greater configurability and scale is the ultimate challenge."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected