Researchers at IBM and a Swiss research institute are teaming up for a project to develop a 3D cellular level model of the brain in an attempt to better understand how the brain operates.

IBM and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) made the announcement early Monday.

The two-year project, called “Blue Brain Project”, will include use of IBM’s eServer Blue Gene supercomputer. The partners said the project would begin with a model of the neocortex, the most complex part of the brain thought to be responsible for language, learning, memory and complex thought.

“Modeling the brain at the cellular level is a massive undertaking because of the hundreds of thousands of parameters that need to be taken into account,” said Henry Markram, the founder of the Brain and Mind Institute, in a statement. “IBM has unparalleled experience in biological simulations and the most advanced supercomputing technology in the world. With our combined resources and expertise we are embarking on one of the most ambitious research initiatives ever undertaken in the field of neuroscience.”

The model will recreate electro-chemical interactions within the brain and simulate brain processes in three dimensions, IBM said.

IBM will install a Blue Gene supercomputer at the Swiss facility. It will be capable of handling 22.8 tereaflops of operations per second, “making it one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world”, IBM added.

The supercomputer will also be used for research into nano technology, semiconductor research and disease research such as mad cow.

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