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BRAIN INITIATIVE for the Science Community

Neural Connections in the Human BrainPresident Obama announced on Tuesday, April 2, 2013, a White House initiative called Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) designed to revolutionize our understanding of the human brain. BRAIN will be a 10 year initiative to the tune of $100 million.

Due to the enormous complexity of the human brain, which holds nearly 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion connections, this initiative is necessary in order to analyze the vast amounts of data that will be generated and will also increase understanding of how thoughts, emotions, actions and memories are represented in the brain.

DARPA, NIH and NSF researchers will attempt to learn how the brain functions in order to develop effective ways of helping people suffering from neurological and psychiatric disorders like Parkinson’s disease, autism, epilepsy, schizophrenia, depression, and traumatic brain injury. The NIH is establishing a high level working group of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) to help shape this new initiative, which is co-chaired by Dr. Cornelia “Cori” Bargmann (The Rockefeller University) and Dr. William Newsome (Stanford University). The ACD will present scientific goals of the BRAIN initiative and work to develop a multi-year scientific plan in order to achieve goals that include a timetable, milestones, and cost estimates.

DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) intends to invest $50 million in 2014 with the goal of understanding the dynamic functions of the brain and demonstrating breakthrough applications based on these insights

NIH (National Institutes of Health) will provide $40 million to develop new tools, training opportunities, and other resources.

NSF (National Science Foundation) intends to contribute $20 million in research that will help to advance the initiative and will include research into the development of molecular-scale probes that can sense and record the activity of neural networks.

Partners who will also be contributing to the research and funding:

The Allen Institute for Brain Science will invest $60 million annually in order to understand how brain activity leads to perception, decision-making and ultimately action.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute will invest $30 million annually to develop new imaging technologies and understand how information is stored and processed in neural networks.

Kavli Foundation will invest $4 million annually for 10 years in order to provide the knowledge for addressing debilitating diseases and conditions.

Salk Institute for Biological Studies will invest $28 million inorder to produce a sophisticated understanding of the brain, from individual genes to neuronal circuits to behavior.