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article imageObama launches project to map the human brain

By Tim Sandle     Apr 6, 2013 in Science
Starting in 2014, the federally funded initiative, announced on April 2, will seek to develop new technologies capable of mapping the activity in the human brain.
According to BBC News, President Barack Obama has officially announced plans for a large-scale, government-backed research project to map the human brain. The project will be called Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN).
The main aim, the Daily News reports, will be to advance understanding of various brain diseases. President Obama has expressed his hope that the research will "unlock the answers to Alzheimer’s".
The research has divided scientific opinion, according to the New York Times. Speaking in favor, Michael Roukes, a physicist at the California Institute of Technology said: "It makes sense to have a brain activity map now because the maturation of an array of nanotechnologies can be brought to bear on the problem.
However, striking a cord of less enthusiasm, David Stein, a neuroscientist at Emory University in Atlanta, said: "I think the monies could be better spent by first figuring out what needs to be measured and then figuring out the most appropriate means to measure them. In my mind, the technology ought to follow the concepts rather than the other way around."
The project will begin with a fund of $100 million and the first step will be with developing the technologies to enable the investigation to begin. The project will involve three U.S. government agencies: the National Institutes of Health (NIH), The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Some private institutions will also contribute.
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