UK scientists are working on a computer that offers highly fault-tolerant characteristics by copying the way nerve cells interact in the human brain.
A team at the University of Manchester aims to build a device which could be used to try and understand how, for example, the details of complex visual scenes are encoded by the brain.
Professor Steve Furber, of the university's School of Computer Science, will lead the £1m project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
"Our brains keep working despite frequent failures of their component neurons, and this 'fault-tolerant' characteristic is of great interest to engineers who wish to make computers more reliable," said Professor Furber.
"Our aim is to use the computer to understand better how the brain works at the level of spike patterns, and to see if biology can help us to build computer systems that continue functioning despite component failures."
The computer will be designed to model large numbers of neurons in real time and to track patterns of neural spikes as they occur in the brain.
It will be built using large numbers of simple microprocessors designed to interact like the networks of neurons found in the brain.
The aim will be to place dozens of microprocessors on single silicon chip reducing the cost and power consumption of the computer.
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