In a move that could bring major breakthroughs in the understanding of autism and other neurological disorders, the president unveiled plans for a decades-long project to map the human brain.
The effort dubbed the BRAIN Initiative — short for “Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies” — comes with a bold goal of finding new ways to “treat, cure and even prevent brain disorders,” the White House said.
To get the project off the ground, President Barack Obama is asking Congress for $100 million.
“As humans, we can identify galaxies light years away, we can study particles smaller than an atom. But we still haven’t unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears,” Obama said in announcing the effort on Tuesday. “So there is this enormous mystery waiting to be unlocked, and the BRAIN Initiative will change that by giving scientists the tools they need to get a dynamic picture of the brain in action and better understand how we think and how we learn and how we remember.”
Obama compared the BRAIN Initiative to the Human Genome Project, saying that while the full scope of the project is not yet clear, the potential results of the effort “will be transformative.”