White House gives progress report on BRAIN Initiative

brainstem cells and connections

Labeling individual nerve cells with different colors by a genetic method shows the paths and connections of those cells in the brain stem.

Courtesy of J. Lichtman, Harvard

Guest post by Laura Sanders

More pieces of President Obama’s ambitious BRAIN Initiative announced in April 2013 have fallen into place. A host of private and public organizations, including Google, General Electric, the Food and Drug Administration and the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, have aligned their research goals with those outlined in the BRAIN Initiative, which seeks to provide a deeper understanding of how the cells in the brain give rise to thoughts, memories and emotions.

Although research has made great strides in previous years, “we have a long way to go to achieve a full, clear picture of how the brain functions at the speed of thought,” John Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, said in a White House conference September 30.

For its part, the National Institutes of Health has also announced the first recipients of $46 million of awards related to the initiative. Researchers received funding for a diverse range of projects, including those that aim to take a census of brain cell types, develop advanced imaging tools and create ways to record the behavior of large numbers of nerve cells simultaneously.

Read more about the BRAIN Initiative in SN’s feature “Brain shot.”

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