White House Proposes Human Brain Mapping Initiative

The White House recently released new details on President Obama’s proposed initiative to map the human brain.

The project, called the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN), may pave the way for important advances in understanding and treating traumatic brain injury (TBI). Treatment options for TBI are currently quite limited. Also, doctors’ understanding of what makes for effective rehabilitation is undergoing rapid change.

In a press conference on April 2, 2013, President Obama proposed that the government’s fiscal year 2014 budget contain an initial expenditure toward the project of $100 million. BRAIN is projected to cost as much as $3 billion and take ten years or longer.

The goal of the initiative is to map the activity of every neuron in the human brain. Researchers hope the information will help not only brain injury patients but also Alzheimer’s, autism, and epilepsy patients.

The White House press release said the $100 million to pay for the project will come from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

“The BRAIN Initiative will accelerate the development and application of new technologies that will enable researchers to produce dynamic pictures of the brain that show how individual brain cells and complex neural circuits interact at the speed of thought,” the White House statement said. “These technologies will open new doors to explore how the brain records, processes, uses, stores, and retrieves vast quantities of information, and shed light on the complex links between brain function and behavior.”