News / Science & Technology

Obama Announces Plan to Map Human Brain

 President Barack Obama announces the BRAIN Initiative - Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies - in the East Room of the White House in Washington, April 2, 2013.
President Barack Obama announces the BRAIN Initiative - Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies - in the East Room of the White House in Washington, April 2, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama has launched a scientific research initiative aimed at demystifying the workings of the human brain.

The president described the human brain as one of the great frontiers of human discovery.

“As humans, we can identify galaxies light years away, study particles smaller than an atom, but we still have not unlocked the mystery of the three pounds [1.5 kilos] of matter that sits between our ears,” he said.

Speaking at the White House, Obama said he will propose $100 million for research to unlock the mystery. The funds are to go to the nation’s leading research institutions for collaboration with private companies and charitable foundations.

The project aims to understand how the interactions among the billions of neurons in the human brain form our thoughts, memories and movements. The benefits could reach billions of people worldwide.

“Imagine if no family had to feel helpless watching a loved one disappear behind the mask of Parkinson’s, or struggle in the grip of epilepsy. Imagine if we could reverse traumatic brain injury or PTSD for our veterans who are coming home. What if computers could respond to our thoughts, or language barriers could come tumbling down?” said Obama.

National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins said a “dream team” of top minds in brain research will lay out the project’s priorities.

Unraveling the hugely complex network of billions of neural connections and their function will require tools and technology that do not yet exist. But Collins said their development may itself produce benefits.

“People are quite excited about what we can learn about how the brain does what it does, which may teach us new kinds of architectures that can be the next design principle for the computers of the future. So, the computers are going to serve us by analyzing and storing the data, but we may also maybe make them obsolete by figuring out new ways to design better ones,” said Collins.

The opportunity for innovation is at the heart of the brain-mapping initiative. With budget-slashing the order of the day in Washington, the president says the program is a wise investment in America’s future. He said each dollar spent on sequencing the human genome returned $140 to the economy, and he expects this project will have similar benefit.

“We cannot afford to miss these opportunities while the rest of the world races ahead," said Obama. "We have to seize them. I do not want the next job-creating discoveries to happen in China or India or Germany. I want them to happen right here. And that is part of what this BRAIN Initiative is about.”

Support for the initiative is not unanimous among researchers. Some skeptics say rather than focusing on a core set of issues, scientists should pursue a broad research agenda and follow where it leads.

Collins said it is the right idea, though, to think big.

“There is nothing like a project of this sort to inspire people to go to that next level. And we hope that we will recruit into this effort some of the best and brightest, all kinds of bright brains that might otherwise have done something else, to come and solve those problems,” he said.

Researchers say the initiative is not likely to produce immediate cures for diseases. Much of the research likely will focus first on animal studies, before moving on to humans.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Kitagawa Keikoh from: Daikanyama T-SITE, JPN
April 06, 2013 7:55 PM
I'm just wondering how many people are suffering of Parkinson's? 1% of world population? Under 0.1% of world population?
Why do you have war beterans who has traumatic brain injury?
That's because you do wars worldwide.
Do you really want computers to respond our thoughts?

Are these the purpose to use $100M ?

It is just a political porpose, not for help people.


by: Thisheart from: Sellersburg, IN
April 02, 2013 5:21 PM
We're in trillions of debt, but by all means lets give the mad scientists some bucks to torture animals and find new ways to control human minds - Lord knows we wouldn't want the Chinese to beat us to it. I think we've been part of a BRAINLESS Initiative in this country for some time.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid