Efforts to make sense of the morass of cells and signals that populate the brain have come a long way in the last 50 years. Scientists have examined the signaling of single neurons in great detail, revealing much about the electrochemical mechanisms that carry messages from one cell to the next. Modern scanning technologies have enabled unprecedented if high-altitude views of the brain’s inner workings, pinpointing functional units of the brain. But the greatest promises of brain research — a cellular description of thought and behavior and, even more importantly, strategies to battle disorders of the brain — have yet to be fulfilled.
Making good on those promises is the motivation behind the federal BRAIN Initiative, proposed by President Barack Obama last year, now in the process of being further articulated by neuroscientists