Finally, the U.S. is going to get serious about giving a boost to our understanding of the body’s most important organ — our brain. Stuck in the equivalent of the 19th century medical knowledge, we know less about how the brain works than any other part of the physical body. What we’ve had for the past century are a whole lot of theories and some pretty pictures showing the brain’s uptake of sugar (fMRI) — the modern equivalent of phrenology via brain scans.
Understanding how the black box we call the brain works could unlock the mystery for a myriad of issues — diseases, mental disorders, consciousness, thought processes, emotions and so much more.
The challenge of this effort — to be named the Brain Activity Map project — will be whether it will be properly funded by the federal government. Because while the reward is potentially immeasurable, the risk is also very great.
The U.S. government hasn’t announced anything official yet, but the New York Times broke the story on Sunday that it was coming down the pike:
The project, which the administration has been looking to unveil as early as March, will include federal agencies, private foundations and teams of neuroscientists and nanoscientists in a concerted effort to advance the knowledge of the brain’s billions of neurons and gain greater insights into perception, actions and, ultimately, consciousness.
And it could provide a much-needed lift for our economy when times are still tough — even among scientists:
Scientists involved in the planning said they hoped that federal financing for the project would be more than $300 million a year, which if approved by Congress would amount to at least $3 billion over the 10 years.
The Human Genome Project cost $3.8 billion. It was begun in 1990 and its goal, the mapping of the complete human genome, or all the genes in human DNA, was achieved ahead of schedule, in April 2003. A federal government study of the impact of the project indicated that it returned $800 billion by 2010.
We support this project and will be reporting on it regularly over the years to come, as findings from this effort get published. We’ll also provide an update when the Brain Activity Map project is officially unveiled in the months to come.
Read the full article: Project Seeks to Build Map of Human Brain
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 Feb 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Grohol, J. (2013). Brain Activity Map: The New Human Genome Project. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 8, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/02/19/brain-activity-map-the-new-human-genome-project/