The BBC reports that IBM and five US universities will receive a grant from DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
IBM will join five US universities in an ambitious effort to integrate what is known from real biological systems with the results of supercomputer simulations of neurons. The team will then aim to produce for the first time an electronic system that behaves as the simulations do.
The longer-term goal is to create a system with the level of complexity of a cat's brain.
Prof Modha says that the time is right for such a cross-disciplinary project because three disparate pursuits are coming together in what he calls a "perfect storm".
Neuroscientists working with simple animals have learned much about the inner workings of neurons and the synapses that connect them, resulting in "wiring diagrams" for simple brains.
Supercomputing, in turn, can simulate brains up to the complexity of small mammals, using the knowledge from the biological research. Modha led a team that last year used the BlueGene supercomputer to simulate a mouse's brain, comprising 55m neurons and some half a trillion synapses.
"But the real challenge is then to manifest what will be learned from future simulations into real electronic devices - nanotechnology," Prof Modha said.
It sounds exciting . . . but I have one nagging question at the back of my mind.
You say you want to build a computer "with the level of complexity of a cat's brain"?
Then, if you succeed, won't that computer look down on you with tolerant contempt - just like cats do?