Obama Set To Announce Federal Initiative To Map The Human Brain

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(Photo credit  MAURICIO LIMA/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit MAURICIO LIMA/AFP/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – President Obama is set to announce a broad new research initiative to map and explore the human brain.

On Tuesday, the White House is expected to unveil the program – which one senior administration scientist compared to the Human Genome Project – to create new technology to record and map brain activity that could possibly lead to advancements in treating diseases, The New York Times reports.

Although no clear goals were defined, the initiative is being called the “Brain Activity Map project,” and will be jump-started with $100 million in federal funding in 2014.

The National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation have formed what officials called a “dream team” led by Cori Bargmann of Rockefeller University and William Newsome of Stanford University.

According to the Times, the initiative is just part of a broad plan of neuroscience research being supported by “billions of dollars in federal money.” However, Dr. Newsome expressed optimism that just a small amount of money pushed in the right direction could possibly lead to major developments in treating diseases such as Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and traumatic brain damage.

“The goal here is a whole new playing field, whole new ways of thinking,” Dr. Newsome told the Times. “We are really out to catalyze a paradigm shift.”

The president will require a study of “ethical implications” in such advances of neuroscience, but the project looks to map how brain cells interact in order to meet the challenges of science in the 21st century.

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