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article imageWhat is the U.S. BRAIN plan?

By Tim Sandle     Sep 21, 2013 in Science
The U.S. lays out nine research areas that a new federal neuroscience initiative will fund. The projects are focused on to the development and application of innovative new technologies to construct a dynamic picture of brain function.
In April 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans for a new federally funded neuroscience project, called the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. The project set the the goal of mapping the activity of every neuron in the human brain. The initiative has been projected to cost more than $300 million per year for ten years.
The announcement was greeted with some fanfare. However, it was only during this week that the full details of the research projects have emerged. The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) working group has released an interim report outlining nine broad areas the agency seeks to support.
The current priorities include performing a census of brain cell types, linking neuronal activity to behavior, improving tools for manipulating brain circuits, disseminating knowledge on neuroscience research tools, and more. The overarching goal is to understand how neural circuits interact to spur memories, emotions, and behaviors. These investigations will generate about 300 exabytes of data every year (that's a mind-boggling 1000000000000000000 bytes of data, or to shorten it a little, one quintillion bytes).
Similar funding is taking place in Europe. The Digital Journal reported earlier that around 165 million Europeans are likely to experience some form of brain-related diseases during their lifetime (this includes Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative or age-related mental disorders). The cost of treating those affected is also estimated to be 150 million euros on brain research.
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