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Obama Announces Details on $100 Million for Neuroscience Research

Apr 02, 2013 01:04 PM EDT
Obama Brain initiatve
U.S. President Barack Obama announces his administration's Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative at the White House in Washington, April 2, 2013. The White House unveiled details on Tuesday on a new initiative to study the human brain with the goal of treating or curing Alzheimer's disease and other disorders.
(Photo : REUTERS/Jason Reed)

After announcing plans to fund research dedicated to mapping the human brain in this year's State of the Union address, President Barack Obama released details on Tuesday on what has been named the Brain Research Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.

In total, the program will receive $100 million in government aid in what Obama said will spur American research to a degree not seen since the height of the Space Race. 

Specifically, the program is centered on preventing and even curing brain disorders, including Alzheimer's, epilepsy and traumatic brain injury, according to a press release from the White House.

One way it plans on doing this is through further development and application of new technologies designed to allow researchers to produce more "dynamic" pictures of the brain. The hope is that in doing so, researchers will be able to better understand how "individual brain cells and complex neural circuits interact at the speed of thought."

This in turn will help scientists better understand how the brain "records, processes, uses, stores, and retrieves" information. Furthermore, the press release states, scientists will be able to better uncover the link between brain function and behavior.

To reach these goals, Obama laid out four specific steps.

First, is that of funding: the money will be divided up among the National Institute of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation beginning in the 2014 fiscal year.

The second and third point outlined ensures that leading academics from the country's universities as well as private foundations and companies currently leading the way in neuroscience research will be brought on to assist and advise in the work.

Finally, all research will be overseen by the Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues in order to "explore the ethical, legal, and societal implications" raised by forthcoming research.

"We can't afford to miss these opportunities while the rest of the world races ahead," Obama said when announcing the plan on Tuesday. "We have to seize them. I don't want the next job-creating discoveries to happen in China or India or Germany. I want them to happen right here."

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