Brain Corporation is a small research company that is developing novel algorithms and microprocessors that are modeled on biological nervous systems. The research is aimed at applications in visual perception, motor control, and autonomous navigation. The intention is to equip consumer devices, such as mobile phones and household robots, with artificial nervous systems.
The company was co-founded in 2009 by computational neuroscientist Eugene Izhikevich and neuroscientist/entrepreneur Allen Gruber. The research is partly funded by Qualcomm and the company is hosted on the Qualcomm campus in San Diego, California. No specific products have yet been released or announced, but the company continues to grow and is actively hiring more staff as of February 2013.
The central theme of Brain Corporation's research is to build artificial brains for commercial applications.
The vision project aims to recreate the mammalian visual system in a large-scale model that faithfully reproduces the anatomy and spiking dynamics of the retina, visual cortex, inferior temporal cortex, and associated subcortical structures. This will be used to endow robots with autonomous navigation, object recognition and tracking.
The motor control project is developing spiking models of action selection, reinforcement learning, and motor control that are based on the known anatomy and physiology of mammalian cerebellum and basal ganglia. Results will give robots the ability to control their effectors and actuators to manipulate objects in real-world environments.
Large-scale brain simulations
The work at Brain Corporation builds on earlier research done by Eugene Izhikevich. While working at The Neurosciences Institute during 2000 to 2009 he built a large-scale simulation of the human brain. The model contained 1 million spiking neurons and 500 million synapses. It represented 300 x 300 mm of thalamo-cortical surface and nuclei. The model spontaneously exhibited alpha and gamma waves. One second of simulation took one minute on a Beowulf cluster of 27 processors running at 3 GHz each. See the paper and videos.
Eugene Izhikevich is the Brain Corporation CEO and co-founder. Originally from Russia, he holds degrees in maths from Moscow and Michigan State universities. He was a Fellow at The Neurosciences Institute in San Diego from 2000 to 2009. In 2009 he co-founded Brain Corporation and now works there full time.
Details of Eugene's research and publications can be found on his website at izhikevich.org. In 2007 he published a book on the math of single neuron spiking and bursting: Dynamical Systems in Neuroscience.
In 2006 he founded Scholarpedia, an online wiki-based encyclopedia. It is currently heavily slanted towards neuroscience, although all areas of science are welcome. Interesting articles, for example, are those on neural correlates of consciousness and silicon neurons.
Qualcomm is an American global telecommunication corporation that designs, manufactures, and markets digital wireless telecommunications products and services. Among other things they produce mobile phones, mobile modems such as Gobi which is used in the iPhone 4, low-power displays, and trailer tracking devices. The company was founded in 1985, it employs 17,500 people worldwide, and is headquartered in San Diego, California.
Qualcomm Ventures was formed in the year 2000 with a $500-million fund to make strategic investments in early-stage high-technology ventures. They have invested in Brain Corporation to develop biologically-inspired neural algorithms with applications in vision, motor control, and autonomous navigation. They aim to build specialized hardware for the next generation of smart consumer products with artificial nervous systems.
5665 Morehouse Drive
San Diego, CA, 92121
Brain Corporation should not be confused with the Japanese web and TV production company of the same name: brain-net.co.jp
In July 2012 a news article by DigInfo TV described a bakery in Tokyo that has tested Brain Corporation's machine vision technology to power a semi-automated cashier system. The company involved was not the same Brain Corporation as that founded by Eugene Izhikevich.
- Initial funding was received from Qualcomm Ventures in July 2009 - a multi-year agreement to develop spiking models of the visual system.
- Further funding was received from DARPA in November 2010 for the purpose of designing artificial nervous system for UAVs.
- A repeat agreement was signed with Qualcomm in September 2011. More funds were provided to hire research scientists.
Eugene Izhikevich, Hermann Cuntz, and Paul Bender discuss the work of Brain Corporation.
Video published May 2011
Based on an August 2010 scientific paper by Hermann Cuntz et al:
One Rule to Grow Them All: A General Theory of Neuronal Branching and Its Practical Application
Visualisation of a large-scale model of human thalamocortical systems built by Eugene Izhikevich and Gerald Edelman in 2005.
The model simulates one million multi-compartmental spiking neurons (of 22 different types) and almost 500 million synapses (~500 synapses per neuron). It exhibits behaviours of normal brain activity that were not explicitly built-in but emerged spontaneously. See the full paper (PDF).
- Neuromorphic Modeling Abstractions and Simulation of Large-Scale Cortical Networks - November 2011
- Spike-Timing Theory of Working Memory - August 2010