If you haven’t heard, it’s a really exciting time to be a neuroscientist (or possible future neuroscientist, like me). President Obama mentioned in his State of the Union address earlier this year that he would be approving a billion dollar brain mapping project, and just recently more details were unveiled.
The BRAIN Initiative (which sort of sounds like a Doctor Who villain) stands for Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies. And it could easily be a recursive acronym, because the first word is the same as the acronym!
Science funding hasn’t been going so well lately. Luckily, for the research industry, Obama believes that “Ideas are what power our economy.” This means that he wants to put money into scientific research, because it will generate economic growth by creating jobs among other advances.
I don’t know too much about economics, but the science side of this is pretty cool. the project is somewhat based on The Human Genome Project, in that the goal is to create a map of the healthy brain and diseased brain to further understand neurological and psychological disorders.
More than that though, we really want to understand the brain. It’s all kind of meta really, brains studying brains. Anyway, the project will hopefully lead to the development of new tools the industry can use to study brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Autism spectrum disorders much more quickly and accurately than now.
All the major players have parts in this project including government agencies like the NIH and NSF and private sector research institutions like Salk and The Allen Institute. It will be really exciting to watch it progress and see what happens!