The Obama administration has announced plans for a new project to map activity in the human brain. The 10-year project will examine the brain and construct a comprehensive map of neural activity aiming to understand exactly how the brain works right down to explaining the science behind consciousness.
The Brain Activity Map Project will also provide critical insight into the treatment of neural disorders and diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease as well as mental illness and will also aid advances in artificial intelligence.
The New York Times reports the project could begin as early as March, with an expected cost reaching $3 billion over the decade.
If successful, the Brain Activity Map Project will bring the same level of benefits to health and science research as the human genome project did for genetic research. In his State of the Union address, President Obama highlighted the economic effects of the gene mapping project. “Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy — every dollar,” he said. Commentators are suggesting the Human Brain Map Project could return similar fiscal benefits.
The Brain Activity Map Project is not the only brain mapping initiative currently in place. Last month, a press release from King’s College London published by Phys.Org reported the college was part of an international syndicate of scientists granted more than one billion euros to build a complete computer simulation of the brain. The New York Times is reporting the Obama Brain mapping initiative will be “markedly different,” though no further details have been provided by the White House.
Obama’s Brain Activity Map Project will be reviewed in the president’s budget proposal next month.