Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

US plans to study brain's mysteries

President Barack Obama is backing massive new research into how the brain works
President Barack Obama is backing massive new research into how the brain works

New research to map the human brain in hopes of unlocking some of its mysteries is being backed by president Barack Obama.

He is to propose a 100 million dollars ((£65 million) investment for next year after mentioning the idea in his State of the Union address, comparing the potential to the Human Genome Project that mapped DNA.

"Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy," he said in the address to Congress in February. "Today, our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer's."

Mr Obama wants the research to involve private institutions as well as government agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation. It will require the development of new technology that can record the electrical activity of more neurons in the brain and a study of the ethical implications of the advancements.

Mr Obama said the BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) has the potential to improve the lives of billions of people worldwide.

"As humans we can identify galaxies light-years away," Mr Obama said. "We can study particles smaller than an atom, but we still haven't unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears."

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