Obama proposes $100M brain mapping project

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Scientists are hailing today's proposal from President Barack Obama that Congress spend $100 million next year to start a project that will explore details of the brain.

Obama says it's a step toward finding better ways to treat such conditions as Alzheimer's, autism, stroke and traumatic brain injuries.

He says the research has the potential to improve the lives of billions of people worldwide.

The White House says the idea would require the development of new technology that can record the electrical activity of individual cells and complex neural circuits in the brain "at the speed of thought."

The director of the National Institutes of Health says the $100 million request is "a pretty good start for getting this project off the ground." A working group at NIH would define the goals of the effort and develop a multi-year plan to achieve them that would include cost estimates.

David Fitzpatrick, who heads the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience, says Obama's request for research money is "spectacular." He says current brain-scanning technologies can reveal the average activity of large populations of brain cells, but that the new project would be on an "entirely different scale." He says it could pay off someday in treatments for a long list of neurological and psychiatric disorders.


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