President Obama’s 2014 budget includes a request for $100 million from Congress in order to launch the Brain Research Activity Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. Word of the project has created quite a stir, and the president himself has likened the initiative to the nation’s past efforts to send a man to the moon.
By leveraging technology that already enables scientists and doctors to document the activity of neurons, the BRAIN Initiative aims to map the speed-of-thought work of hundreds of thousands of the brain’s neurons. Dr. Cori Bargmann of Rockefeller University is co-chairing a National Institutes of Health committee that will set the specific agenda for the project’s cost estimates, timetables and goals.
Distribution of funds for the BRAIN Initiative will look like this:
[The budget] will request $50 million in funding for the BRAIN initiative through the Defense Advanced Research Projects agency; $40 million from the NIH, mainly through an existing multi-institute initiative called the NIH Blueprint of Neuroscience Research; and $20 million from the National Science Foundation. Details on the kind of work that each agency will contribute are available on this fact sheet.
Read Obama launches multibillion-dollar brain-map project on Nature.
Although there is not yet a clearly defined end goal for this project, the benefits of learning more about the brain are numerous. For instance, widespread conditions, such as autism and Alzheimer’s disease, stand to gain from a better understanding of the brain. The application of data gleaned from the BRAIN project could be an enormous boon in the field of robotic prosthetics, benefiting amputees. And people who have experienced traumatic brain injuries could also be helped as a result of the initiative’s insights.
Inside the White House, the hope is that the BRAIN project blossoms into a medical and scientific game changer.
Learn more in the infographic below.