Kwabena Boahen wants to understand how brains work — and to build a computer that works like the brain by reverse-engineering the nervous system. His group at Stanford is developing Neurogrid, a hardware platform that will emulate the cortex’s inner workings.

Why you should listen

Kwabena Boahen is the principal investigator at the Brains in Silicon lab at Stanford. He writes of himself:

Being a scientist at heart, I want to understand how cognition arises from neuronal properties. Being an engineer by training, I am using silicon integrated circuits to emulate the way neurons compute, linking the seemingly disparate fields of electronics and computer science with neurobiology and medicine.

My group's contributions to the field of neuromorphic engineering include a silicon retina that could be used to give the blind sight and a self-organizing chip that emulates the way the developing brain wires itself up. Our work is widely recognized, with over sixty publications, including a cover story in the May 2005 issue of Scientific American.

My current research interest is building a simulation platform that will enable the cortex's inner workings to be modeled in detail. While progress has been made linking neuronal properties to brain rhythms, the task of scaling up these models to link neuronal properties to cognition still remains. Making the supercomputer-performance required affordable is the goal of our Neurogrid project. It is at the vanguard of a profound shift in computing, away from the sequential, step-by-step Von Neumann machine towards a parallel, interconnected architecture more like the brain.

Kwabena Boahen’s TED talk

Kwabena Boahen on the TED Blog


TEDTalks' own guitar heroes

August 3, 2008

TEDTalks fan Stefan Kreitmayer was watching Tod Machover — whose lab at MIT developed the tech behind Guitar Hero — when he noticed an interesting coincidence and took a screenshot. Wondering what to watch next? How about these guitar heroes: (Links for these talks: Craig Venter … Freeman Dyson … Kwabena Boahen … the Theme […]

Continue reading

Making a brain in silicon: Kwabena Boahen on

July 30, 2008

Stanford researcher Kwabena Boahen is looking for ways to mimic the brain’s supercomputing powers in silicon — because the messy, redundant processes inside our heads actually make for a small, light, superfast computer. (Recorded June 2007 in Arusha, Tanzania. Duration: 16:21.) Watch Kwabena Boahen’s 2007 talk on, where you can download it, rate it, […]

Continue reading

Quotes from Kwabena Boahen

The brain processes information using 100,000 times less energy than we do right now with this computer technology that we have.
Kwabena Boahen
TEDGlobal 2007 • 490K views Jul 2008
Informative, Fascinating