Home > Causes of dementia, Diagnosis, Medical issues, Public awareness, Technology, Treatment > President Obama Announces BRAIN Initiative

President Obama Announces BRAIN Initiative

Image courtesy digitalart@freedigitalphoto.netYesterday, U.S. President Barack Obama issued a challenge to researchers and agencies dealing with scientific innovations and technology, labelled as the BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies).  The purpose of this initiative will be to help increase our understanding of the human mind and to discover new methods for diagnosing, preventing, and treating brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, autism, and others.  It is predicted that this initiative will stimulate job creation and economic growth, as well as improve our nation’s ability to provide health care to its citizens.

In his speech, the president called on companies, research universities, foundations, and philanthropic organizations to join what he called a “Grand Challenge.”  This will hopefully promote a nation-wide effort to bring together a diversity of resources from a variety of industries to benefit our lives and the economy in a positive way.

The President’s 2014 budget contains funding for the BRAIN Initiative to the tune of approximately $100 million.  This will fund research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF).  Private foundations and research institutions are also contributing to the cause.  For example, the Allen Institute for Brain Science will be pitching in at least $60 million annually, and the Kavli Foundation will spend approximately $4 million annually over the next 10 years.  The Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies will also be participating.

Possible long-term outcomes of the BRAIN Initiative include:

—  Improved understanding of the mechanisms underlying Parkinson’s disease to improve treatments and prevention, and even cures.

—  Reduce language barriers through technological advances in how computers interface with human thought.

—  Develop solutions which will allow us to prevent, treat, and even reverse the harmful effects of PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury in returning war veterans.

—  Create high-tech jobs for Americans.

—  Understand how brain activity leads to perception and decision-making.

—  Develop new imaging technologies and understand how information is stored and processed in the brain.

—  Assist in learning more about debilitating diseases and conditions.

—  Produce a more sophisticated understanding of the brain, from individual genes to neuronal circuits to behavior.

More information can be found at the White House’s web site.

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