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Obama to ­nveil Initiative to Map the Human Brain

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A representation of the different parts of the brain.

The Brain Research Through Advanced Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) research initiative aims to record and map the brain's various circuits, to pave the way for improved medical treatments.

Credit: Digital Storm/Shutterstock

President Barack Obama is launching the Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) research initiative, which aims to record and map brain circuits to advance neuroscience and improve treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injuries.

The Obama administration has designated BRAIN as a grand challenge of the 21st century and committed $100 million in initial funding to the project in 2014.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the National Science Foundation will work on the project, and an NIH working group led by Rockefeller University's Cori Bargmann and Stanford University's William Newsome will develop a plan, time frame, specific goals, and cost estimates.

New technology will be created to simultaneously record as many as hundreds of thousands of neurons, and novel theoretical approaches, mathematics, and computer science will be necessary to handle the resulting data volume, Newsome says.

In addition, Obama will require a study of the ethical impact of the anticipated neuroscience advances in question.

Proponents believe the initiative's impact on science and technology could be equal to that of the Human Genome Project and the launch of the Sputnik satellite in the 1950s.

From The New York Times
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