Perspectives on the NEW Decade of the Brain

Brain Activity Map vs. Human Brain Project. America vs. Europe.

The Cortical Crusades. (Image from The New Yorker)

I, like the neuroscience community, can’t wait to see what will come from the race to gaining ‘complete comprehension’ of the brain’s neural workings. So I’ve compiled several sources and opinions on the proposed projects to try to understand what research will take place, and where we think it’ll lead.

The race began last month when Obama announced a decade long brain mapping scheme which certainly appears to be challenging the recently launched European lead Human Brain Project (HBP) to a neuroscience duel; the American Brain Activity Map see the HBP’s €1 billion investment, and raises its to $3 billion. The goals of these initiatives are to “examine the workings of the human brain and build a comprehensive map of its activity” [1] and “to reverse-engineer the human brain in computers” [2], respectively, and both in the space of a decade.

This injection of capital in neuroscientific research sounds familiar. In the ’90s a ‘Decade of the Brain’ was declared by George Bush, with an aim “to enhance public awareness of the benefits to be derived from brain research” [3]. What can we expect this time around?  Continue reading