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President Obama Announces $100 Million BRAIN Initiative

President Obama announced a $100 million initiative called Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN), which will try to map out how the brain works in the hopes of providing information about diseases such as Alzheimer's and epilepsy. Public and private-sector scientists will work on the project.

Obama said: "There is this enormous mystery waiting to be unlocked, and the BRAIN initiative will change that by giving scientists the tools they need to get a dynamic picture of the brain in action and better understand how we think and learn and remember. And that knowledge will be transformative."

He continued: "As humans we can identify galaxies light years away, we can study particles smaller than the atom, but we still haven't unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears."

The project is set to begin in 2014. The National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation will all be involved. Private sector interests involved with the initiative include the Allen Institute for Brain Science and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, according to the BBC.

Scientists will look at how the brain records, stores and processes information and use supercomputer-based models and simulations to create a virtual human brain. This virtual brain will hopefully help them develop new treatments for neurological conditions.

A statement released by the White House about BRAIN read in part: "Significant breakthroughs in how we treat neurological and psychiatric disease will require a new generation of tools to enable researchers to record signals from brain cells in much greater numbers and at even faster speeds.”

It went on: "This cannot currently be achieved, but great promise for developing such technologies lies at the intersections of nanoscience, imaging, engineering, informatics, and other rapidly emerging fields of science and engineering."

Sources: BBC, USA Today


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