A large-scale effort to understand the human brain and build a comprehensive map of its activity is set to launch with the help of billions of dollars in federal funds. According to the New York Times, President Obama will outline the plan to fund the decade-long Brain Activity Map project in his federal budget proposal, which the White House is slated to release next month. Scientists involved in planning the project hope that it will have the same catalytic effect on brain research as the $3.8 billion Human Genome Project had on genetics, and that it will spur the development of new therapies for various brain diseases.
The White House Office for Science and Technology Policy did not comment on the speculation, but several scientists and institutions, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), confirmed their involvement in planning the project. Indeed, Obama may have been teasing the new project during his recent State of the Union address, when he cited brain research as the kind of science in which government should invest. And NIH director Francis Collins may have accidently confirmed as much immediately after the speech when he tweeted, “Obama mentions #NIH Brain Activity Map in #SOTU.”