BRAIN initiative seeks tools to understand human thought, behavior, consciousness

The newly proposed scientific project to understand the most complicated 3 pounds of material in the world—the human brain—is the topic of an article in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

In the article, Lauren Wolf, C&EN associate editor, focuses on the Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative, previously known as the Brain Activity Map project, which President Barack Obama announced earlier in April. Sometimes compared to the Human Genome Project in its scope and potential impact on medicine, BRAIN would enlist teams of scientists to develop the technology for an unprecedented new understanding of how the brain works. It could establish the basis for new treatments for clinical depression, autism, schizophrenia, Parkinson's and other brain conditions.

The article explains the emerging realization that thoughts, memories, consciousness and brain disorders result from communication among networks of nerve cells, or neurons, in the brain. An estimated 80 billion of those cells with 100 trillion interconnections complicate the task of understanding brain activity. Until now, scientists have been able to study the activities of only a relative handful of neurons at a time. Taking the next big step in understanding the brain requires new tools, which BRAIN would supply, to listen to conversations among millions of neurons.

More information: cen.acs.org/articles/91/i16/Ma… Brain-Onto-Mind.html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Obama proposes $100M for brain mapping project (Update 4)

Apr 02, 2013

President Barack Obama on Tuesday proposed an effort to map the brain's activity in unprecedented detail, as a step toward finding better ways to treat such conditions as Alzheimer's, autism, stroke and traumatic ...

Recommended for you

Steering the filaments of the developing brain

8 hours ago

During brain development, nerve fibers grow and extend to form brain circuits. This growth is guided by molecular cues (Fig. 1), but exactly how these cues guide axon extension has been unclear. Takuro Tojima ...

Do we really only use 10% of our brain?

9 hours ago

As the new film Lucy, starring Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman is set to be released in the cinemas this week, I feel I should attempt to dispel the unfounded premise of the film – that we only use 10% of our brains ...

Birthday matters for wiring-up the brain's vision centers

Jul 31, 2014

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have evidence suggesting that neurons in the developing brains of mice are guided by a simple but elegant birth order rule that allows them to find ...

User comments