Home Computing Neuroscientific breakthroughs in the HBP enabled by the Fenix (super)computing and data infrastructure

Neuroscientific breakthroughs in the HBP enabled by the Fenix (super)computing and data infrastructure

by Amelia Ramiro

The Fenix infrastructure, established by Europe’s leading supercomputing centers, is revolutionizing brain research by providing the high-performance computing (HPC) capabilities necessary for analyzing vast amounts of multilevel data. This infrastructure, known as the Interactive Computing E-Infrastructure for the Human Brain Project (ICEI), is the first implementation project of the Human Brain Project’s (HBP) EBRAINS infrastructure.

Neuroscience research requires a comprehensive understanding of the brain’s functions, from molecules to neurons and their connections. The HPC architectures provided by the Fenix infrastructure cater specifically to the unique demands of the neuroscience community, especially in terms of memory requirements.

The success stories of the Fenix infrastructure demonstrate its significant impact on advancing our understanding of the human brain. For example, a team from Neurospin, CEA, utilized Fenix resources to analyze the fiber organization of 1,000 individuals in the American Human Connectome Project database. This analysis resulted in an optimal parcellation of the cortex, enabling the creation of a functional connectome based on individual variations in fiber connectivity.

Another breakthrough made possible by the Fenix infrastructure is the development of fast GPU simulations for large-scale spiking network models. Spiking neural network models are crucial for studying brain functions, but they are computationally demanding. By leveraging Fenix resources, researchers achieved a 3.1-fold speed increase using GPU-based simulations compared to CPU-based simulations.

Furthermore, Fenix resources have been instrumental in building and simulating multicompartmental cerebellar neurons and networks, as well as developing a novel learning algorithm for efficient pattern classification using neuronal spike timing. These advancements provide insights into brain microcircuit processing and have the potential to revolutionize applications in edge computing and neuroprosthetics.

The Fenix infrastructure also supports the simulation workflows within The Virtual Brain, an open-source platform for constructing and simulating personalized brain network models. This integrated ecosystem empowers scientists to explore potential medical treatments, therapies, and diagnostic procedures for brain-related disorders.

Additionally, the Fenix infrastructure has played a critical role in preparing for the clinical trial of the Virtual Epileptic Patient model, which assists in the diagnosis of drug-resistant epilepsy. By leveraging Fenix resources, extensive repetitions of computationally intensive algorithms were conducted to establish the robustness of the results, leading to the commencement of the clinical trial.

One of the ongoing projects powered by the Fenix infrastructure aims to develop the first detailed and realistic 3D model of the CA1 area of the hippocampus. This model will provide valuable insights into the cellular mechanisms underlying cognitive processes and can be observed in the same format as in vivo or in vitro recordings, thanks to the resources provided by the Fenix infrastructure.

The success of the Fenix infrastructure has been evident through the growing utilization of HPC, cloud, and storage resources by the neuroscience community. The ICEI resource allocation mechanism has allowed researchers to apply for access to these resources, providing an opportunity for the neuroscience community to take advantage of services offered at supercomputing centers.

The Fenix infrastructure, with its cutting-edge technology and collaborative approach, is paving the way for unprecedented advancements in brain research. Through its support of data processing, analysis, and simulation, this infrastructure is instrumental in unraveling the mysteries of the human brain and has the potential to revolutionize the field of neuroscience.

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