Obama Unveils ‘BRAIN’ Initiative to Unravel Complexities of Human Mind

Mike O'Brien

President Obama announced on Tuesday the launch of the new White House "BRAIN" Initiative which aims to find new ways to treat traumatic brain injury and conditions such as schizophrenia and autism.

The new research project, entitled Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, plans to revolutionize our understanding and unlock some of the mysteries of the human mind.

The Obama administration said the initiative "builds on the President’s State of the Union call for historic investments in research and development to fuel the innovation, job creation, and economic growth that together create a thriving middle class."

A White House blog post said: "The Initiative promises to accelerate the invention of new technologies that will help researchers produce real-time pictures of complex neural circuits and visualize the rapid-fire interactions of cells that occur at the speed of thought.

"Such cutting-edge capabilities, applied to both simple and complex systems, will open new doors to understanding how brain function is linked to human behavior and learning, and the mechanisms of brain disease."

Announcing the move on Tuesday, Mr. Obama said the BRAIN Initiative is one of the administration "Grand Challenges," requiring ambitious advancements in science and technology.

He added that several major partners both within and outside government were already on board with the project, but also asked for the input of companies, research facilities and foundations to help identify and pursue other challenges that can improve lives, but also create the jobs and industries of the future.

The Initiative is launching with about $100 million in funding for research supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the President’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget.

Foundations and private research institutions are also investing in the neuroscience that will advance the BRAIN Initiative. In addition, theAllen Institute for Brain Science is to spend at least $60 million a year to support projects related to this program.

For more information, watch the White House video on the BRAIN Initiative below.