Tuesday, February 19, 2013

U.S. Initiative To Map Human Brain Will Reap Much

Brain & Medical Science

An article in the New York Times reports plans by the U.S. Obama Administration to provide funding to map the human brain, similar in scope and ambition to the Human Genome Project, a 13-year-old project completed in 2003.
The project, which the administration has been looking to unveil as early as March, will include federal agencies, private foundations and teams of neuroscientists and nanoscientists in a concerted effort to advance the knowledge of the brain’s billions of neurons and gain greater insights into perception, actions and, ultimately, consciousness.
Scientists with the highest hopes for the project also see it as a way to develop the technology essential to understanding diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as to find new therapies for a variety of mental illnesses.
Moreover, the project holds the potential of paving the way for advances in artificial intelligence. The project, which could ultimately cost billions of dollars, is expected to be part of the president’s budget proposal next month. And, four scientists and representatives of research institutions said they had participated in planning for what is being called the Brain Activity Map project.
The details are not final, and it is not clear how much federal money would be proposed or approved for the project in a time of fiscal constraint or how far the research would be able to get without significant federal financing.
Such are the type of federal government initiatives, including providing research dollars for talented and dedicated scientists and researchers, that have long driven American scientific research and placed it among the leading innovators. It's true that such programs lead to greater economic and social benefits, and even greater research findings to the betterment of humanity. I can't think of anyone rational who would be against such an initiative. Bravo.

You can read the rest of the article at [NYT]