Real-time simulation of a spiking neural network model of the basal ganglia circuitry using general-purpose computing on graphics processing units

Jun Igarashi, Osamu Shouno, Tomoki Fukai, Hiroshi Tsujino
Computational Science Research Program, RIKEN, Japan
Neural Networks, 2011














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Real-time simulation of a biologically realistic spiking neural network is necessary for evaluation of its capacity to interact with real environments. However, the real-time simulation of such a neural network is difficult due to its high computational costs that arise from two factors: (1) vast network size and (2) the complicated dynamics of biologically realistic neurons. In order to address these problems, mainly the latter, we chose to use general-purpose computing on graphics processing units (GPGPU) for simulation of such a neural network, taking advantage of the powerful computational capability of a graphics processing unit (GPU). As a target for real-time simulation, we used a model of the basal ganglia that has been developed according to electrophysiological and anatomical knowledge. The model consists of heterogeneous populations of 370 spiking model neurons, including computationally heavy conductance-based models, connected by 11,002 synapses. Simulation of the model has not yet been performed in real-time using a general computing server. By parallelization of the model on the NVIDIA Geforce GTX 280 GPU in data-parallel and task-parallel fashion, faster-than-real-time simulation was robustly realized with only one-third of the GPU’s total computational resources. Furthermore, we used the GPU’s full computational resources to perform faster-than-real-time simulation of three instances of the basal ganglia model; these instances consisted of 1,100 neurons and 33,006 synapses and were synchronized at each calculation step. Finally, we developed software for simultaneous visualization of faster-than-real-time simulation output. These results suggest the potential power of GPGPU techniques in real-time simulation of realistic neural networks.
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