IBM’s TrueNorth – The first neuromorphic chip

IBM has recently released details of a neuromorphic chip named TrueNorth via their website, the press, and a research report in the journal Science. The research team, headed by Dharmendra Modha as part of the DARPA SyNAPSE Program, developed a chip containing a million “programmable spiking neurons” and 256 million synapses. The chips use 5.4 billion transistors on 4096 “neurosynaptic cores” which each has its memory (in the form of connection routing and timing delays) close to its “neuronal” processing units.

Literally see a fish brain in action!

For those not already familiar with the Janelia Farm Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, if you follow great and exciting advances in neuroscience you will hear about work out of them frequently. Nikita Vladimirov (first author) and colleagues, including Jeremy Freeman and Misha Ahrens, just published a methods paper in Nature Methods describing a method for viewing functional activity of individual neurons in the whole brain of a “fictively” behaving zebrafish. Zebrafish are transparent and scientists have mapped their genome, making them a particularly valuable model organism. This new method, which involves a sort of virtual reality (moving light bars simulating movement) for the fish, along with expression of a calcium indicator which fluoresces when the neuron is active, was used to produce a very cool video:

One of the big challenges here was to avoid any of the scanning light that causes the signaling molecule to fluoresce from hitting the fish’s retina. Their solution was to scan simultaneously with two beams from different directions and along different planes, cutting off the beams when they would otherwise hit the retina and disrupt behavior.

Check out another take on this work over at

Neurotechnology Panel at Potomac Policy Institute


From the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies:

The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies held a seminar on “Neurotechnology: Enhancing the Human Brain and Reshaping Society” on June 30th, 2014. Neuro-enhancements can maximize our physical, cognitive, innovative, and technological potential as a society. The panelists in attendance included Dr. Amy Kruse (Vice President, Intific), Dr. Jonathan D. Moreno (Professor, University of Pennsylvania), Dr. Gerry Yonas (Mind Research Network, University of New Mexico), and Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA). The panelists drew from their experience in industry, government, and academia to discuss current neuro-enhancements, the future of the field, and policy solutions. The speakers emphasized the further enhancement and development of neurotechnology with the support from both the private and public sector.

View the entire summary of the event. Video recordings of the talks and panel discussion are available as well.

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