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Mapping The Mind

The White House proposes a 100-million dollar project to map the inner workings of the human mind. We’re looking at the challenge with some of the country’s biggest brains.

An illustration of neurons in the brain. (Benedict Campbell/Flickr)

An illustration of neurons in the brain. (Benedict Campbell/Flickr)

The big new push from the White House yesterday:  to map the human brain.  It turns out, the final frontier may be in our own heads.

President Obama came out to champion a $100 million push to really find out what’s going on in there.  To map the brain and its activity.  Neural networks.  Neural code.  The infrastructure of what and how we think and feel.  Of perception and decision-making and action.

We’ve mapped the human genome.  Next up, the human brain.

This hour, On Point:  it’s all in our heads.  We’ll look at the big new push to map the brain.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Reid Epstein, White House reporter for Politico. (@reidepstein)

Christof Koch, neuroscientist and chief scientific officer at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, one of the partners of President Obama’s BRAIN initiative.

John Donoghue, professor of Neuroscience at Brown University. Expert in brain/machine interfaces that can restore independence to paralyzed humans and potentially augment human capabilities.

Michael Eisen, biologist at the University of California, Berkeley and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. (@mbeisen)

From Tom’s Reading List

Time Magazine “On Tuesday, President Obama provided more information about his plan to invest $100 million in 2014 to map the human brain. The goal of the project, referred to as the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative and the Brain Activity Map project, is to develop technologies that can document the interactions between nerve cells and the complex network of circuits that are at the root of human thoughts, behavior and functions.”

CNN “The Brain Activity Map initiative is seeking answers to that question. As described in a proposal published online Thursday in the journal Science Express, a group of prominent researchers is proposing a large-scale effort to create new tools to map the human brain in unprecedented detail. This could lead to treatments for brain disorders such as epilepsy, autism, dementia, depression and schizophrenia, as well as ways to restore movement in paralyzed patients.”

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  • NorthernStudio

    This announcement is far more important to me and to every American (and to every citizen of the earth) than any blustering presidential proclamation about trips to Mars or beyond.

    Almost all of us seem to be living with friends or relatives lost to the abyss of Alzheimer’s or other brain disorders or injury or face the risk of this prospect ourselves.

    Finally, a presidential initiative designed to help all people, not just provide welfare for millionaires or feed the ego of America through a marvelous though meaningless technical achievement.

    Wayne Morris
    West Paris, Maine

    • Miles Wimbrow

      Hindsight gives us a false sense of knowing which innovations in technology end up being ‘meaningful’ or important for the present day. We can never know exactly where undertaking research in one sector takes us or when future technologies will be able to build upon this knowledge. Hardly an argument to oppose research of any kind. 

      It seems to me that unraveling, or – use whatever catchy word you want to – revealing the complexity of the human brain is an even greater task than adapting existing technologies to put a man (or woman) on Mars. Interplanetary spaceflight looks easy in comparison – at least we have a good idea of what needs to be done and what the end goal is. Figuring out how hundreds of billions of neurons and glial cells give rise to human thought seems almost impossible. At least from where we stand right now, but I’d be an ignorant fool to call this kind of research meaningless. 

      • JobExperience

         You’re right Miles. We probably don’t have the gas to get there. He could have as easily announced an invisibility ray or anti-gravity  project. Maybe a crash program to give overweight girls longer legs would capture our imagination.

    • Don_B1

      Looking back on President Kennedy’s announcement for putting a man on the moon, no one could foresee that the need for minimizing weight would lead to transistor development with integrated circuits, enabling computer development, and then the Internet, with huge productivity increases for workers throughout the economy.

      And that is just one of the streams of progress that technology has provided, and government investment in it, which has lead to what is now half of GDP today.

      • JobExperience

        You can’t support an economy on tweeting and texting one another. Updating Jim Wright’s observation that car washing and pizza delivery do not constitute a vibrant economy.

        Kennedy knew the nuclear missile program would benefit from booster development. He probably thought men in space was folly. Kennedy was a short-sighted egomaniac on steroids.

    • JobExperience

      Yep, you got it. It’s right  up there with Newt’s Moonstate. Nothing suggests we are on the verge of any beneficial breakthrough as concerns the human brain. Most indicators suggest we are on  the verge  of mass lobotomy.

      How can you  assume Obama has good intentions after he has stabbed most of  humanity  in  the back on Oligarch orders? Are you the prototypical specimen of Liberal Intellectual, kind of an Edsel of the 21st Century.

      • Don_B1

        To get a clue that there are actual breakthroughs on the horizon or closer, check out the Charlie Rose Show “Brain Series” organized with the assistance of Nobelist (for biological mechanism of learning and memory) Dr. Eric Kandel:

        http://www.charlierose.com/view/collection/10702

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    Good intentions, but not enough. We need a hundred billion dollars worth of prize money to be offered to any and all that are willing to solve our most difficult problems. Let us talk about the top 1000 most important breakthroughs needed and then let us get to it ! Certainly any country that can spend trillions of dollars of actual money on unnecessary wars could afford to offer a much lesser amount to be paid only when results are achieved ! Who knows, maybe all of these companies that are hoarding cash would be willing to pursue greatness again if the potential payouts were large enough.

    • JobExperience

      Some of our worst problems are structurally endemic to our hierarchy and economics. Solutions that work are always rejected when the elite would lose power and wealth, lose hegemony over the majority.  William, what use is a money prize to a truly benevolent researcher?

      You are probably not capable of comprehending what I’m trying to tell you but most others can. This is for them.

      Remember: Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is great, If a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate! (Eric Idle)

      The best move would be to declare hoarded money worthless. It truly is worthless to the 99%.

  • albert Sordi

    Could this also be a reaction to the rise in autism?  As many as one in 6 or 7 children are autistic.  Which seems to be epidemic in the US in this generation.  More importantly, what is causing it.  Lifestyle or disease?  Maybe even cellphone waves.

    • 1Brett1

      Have we ever encountered a disorder/disease that was caused by one thing for decades then caused by another, different thing altogether in later decades? …I was just trying to think of one and couldn’t. And by “lifestyle” are you referring to the mother or the child with autism? The former has been explored for decades, including behaviorally, her natural disposition, and the things she had put into her body during pregnancy/pre-natal care; no marker or indicator can be determined. As to the latter, autism seems to consistently show up between the ages of 1 1/2 and 2 years…

      • albert Sordi

        I am actually referring to the lifestyle of the mother … AND the father as well.
        Based on my own personal observations, I have seen autism arise in children of intelligent parents, where the fathers smoked excessive amounts of weed.  Pot could also be DNA altering.  Who really knows.

        • JobExperience

          Vaccinations have not yet been ruled out.
          I hear plenty about it on streaming KPFA.

          • 1Brett1

            The “vaccinations cause autism” hysteria stems from a study done in England a few years ago. It has been debunked over and over, even by the researcher himself who said that he falsified data, made up data, threw out data that contradicted his desired findings, and so on. Also the “study” was performed on a very, very small, select group who were children of parents suing vaccine manufacturers. In fact, the “researcher” was working for a group of lawyers representing the parents of the children with autism studied in this bogus research. 

            There has never been a study that finds any correlative evidence, let alone causation, linking autism to vaccines.

            To suggest that vaccines may be suspect as a cause of autism is not only foolish and ignorant, it is potentially dangerous in that the societal health risks of childhood diseases caused and spread by not getting our society’s children vaccinated is far, far greater than any irrational fears of problems caused by vaccinations, with one caveat: there are some rare conditions caused by allergic reactions to vaccines, and those are very, very rare. Statistically, they are not even a blip compared to rampant diseases such as polio, smallpox, diphtheria, etc., that were prevalent in society before vaccines were invented.

          • JobExperience

            I hope there is a shot for your malady.

          • 1Brett1

            Shows the level of your maturity in being willing to discuss a given topic. Sorry, but your childish response is beyond your initial ignorance; it’s a mean attack by a small mind.

        • Don_B1

          It turns out that actual DNA mutations are not necessary for DNA diseases to appear.

          When the proteins that surround the chromosomes, referred to as the epigenome, are changed by chemicals from the environment, the expression of different DNA genes can be changed, either increasing or decreasing the creation of the RNA through which that gene does its mission, where either can be dangerous or life-threatening.

          And changes in the epigenome can be inherited.

        • 1Brett1

          I’ve worked in human services over 35 years with literally hundreds of people with autism. I’ve seen the spectrum of parents who have autistic children…intelligent parents; dumb parents; really together, well-rounded parents; parents who shouldn’t have had children at all; parents who were as neurotic as can be; parents who had no history of any substance abuse; parents who had some form of substance abuse problems in their history; mothers who practiced excellent prenatal care, etc. I haven’t seen any patterns that could be legitimately documentable as patterns/potential causes…It’s fine to speculate, but I feel that’s best left to researchers attempting to examine potential causes. When lay people perpetuate and promote unsubstantiated “causes” of autism, it only serves to undermine progress in research, as well as inhibiting parents finding reasonable, legitimate  intervention, therapy and supports for their children. 

          • brettearle

            Well said.

            And your statement of professional experience was important–in order for many to disband their subjectivity or inherent biases.

  • arydberg

    Perhaps before we do this we should remove some of the many known neurotoxins from our food supply.    ( Aspartame is probably one of the worst. )   

    • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

      Agreed. Is the explosion in Autism, Asperger Syndrome, ADHD and Diabetes any wonder with all of the approved poisons our processed food stuffs are peppered with?

      • brettearle

        An increase in the Diagnoses of Asperger’s and ADHD may also be influenced by greater publicity and awareness, in recent years.

        Diabetes, of the four listed above, may be the one that is most implicated in processed and fast foods.

    • JobExperience

      Fluoride from water too. (See Fluoride Action Network) It’s not just for John Birchers anymore. Maybe the manufacture of Alzheimer’s patients is a high priority.
      The prions of Frankenfood seem so urgent to profit.

  • Jasoturner

    While I applaud this research, I think we would be better off as a society addressing three other primary concerns first:

    Figuring out a way to make higher education available to all citizens willing and capable of pursuing it.

    Figuring out a way to make health care available to all citizens who need it, and removing the profit motive from decisions regarding health care.

    Figuring out a way to make our energy use cost effective and as sustainable as possible.

    As a nation, we are becoming a people who increasingly cannot afford to educate our children, cannot provide health care to those who are unable to spend thousands of dollars on insurance, and who spend an unwise amount of our wealth on fossil fuels (domestic and imported) that place billions of tons of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere each year.

    If most of our citizens wind up in lousy service sector jobs with limited education, this research won’t mean much to them.

    I’m not exactly saying we’re rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic here, but we are an empire in distress.

    • Shag_Wevera

      I like it  (and I liked it).

      • JobExperience

         He’s right. This is a low priority.

    • Don_B1

      I strongly support the three goals you list, and as the third, getting the world off the use of fossil fuels for energy, is necessary to eliminate an existential threat, it should be at the top of everyone’s list.

      The problem is that those special interests that profit from the extraction and use of fossil fuels are following the same political messaging used by the cigarette industry to delay (they won’t ultimately prevent the switch to sustainable clean energy sources, but the game may be over when that happens) changing the course of energy use.

      But at $100 million, this is not that significant an expenditure in a $16 trillion economy and it could be achieved in this time of dysfunctional politics, whereas the Tea/Republicans will strangle any and all attempts to achieve your goals, until the next Census and the reapportionment that could, if not gerrymandered as in the last two reapportionments, could put the country back on the road away from dysfunction. The trick will be to put district mapping in the hands of independent bodies, as California just did, and Iowa has done for decades, so that issues supported by a majority of voters cannot be prevented by a tiny minority.

  • Bara Badwan

    If the best case scenario occurs and we can fully understand the mechanism of thought and the overall function of the brain, could we simulate it? And if so will that simulation have the human equivalent of “consciousness”? Fun questions. Its going to be quite the decade. 

    • JobExperience

      Why synthesize something so plentiful, and so fragile and precious? Our quality of life is already faded by digitization and cyberfantasy. It’s another quest for Cibola, another petrometh addiction. One potential Presidential candidate (Cardin) scoops brains with an ice cream spoon. Big Med licks his bloody shoes.

  • albert Sordi

    Given that the “government” is initiating this study is, it should be view with a high degree of suspicion.

    Surely good can come out of this,  but also bad.

    I am convinced that if the government could find a way to make Americans even more compliant, ignorant and passive (than they already are)… they will do it.
    Bank bailouts, wars, sequestration and other corruption will be so much easier to slide by them and send the middle class back into a feudal society.

    • Miles Wimbrow

      I think you place too much faith in our institutions. Namely, that the men and women in charge of them would be competent enough to do such a thing.

      • JobExperience

        Many technological and medical advances are currently claimed by corporate cabals and national security which have not been verified. And this does not  preclude the sale of the unproven. Obama is advocating “money over mind” because Oligarchs fear “mind over money.”

        • Miles Wimbrow

          I don’t even…

          People read ‘brain’ and ‘research’ in the same sentence and all they have to bring to the discussion is science fiction and X-files conspiracy theories. 

          The gulf of understanding and perspectives between scientists and laypeople is truly vast.

          • JobExperience

            The gulf between bought scientists and actuality is  also vast. And when the Jews say “never forget”, they are recalling Nazi doctors. Remember how ambition makes banal functionaries commit atrocities.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      First, the gvt is TALKING about this study, and I’m skeptical that there will be any actual initiating.

      Second, if there are actually any $, they will be used by real scientists, not the gvt, and you can expect exciting results.

      Third, it would be really interesting to see a brain scan of these characters that spend hours/day regurgitating talking points that haven’t changed since 1980. I wonder if those brains wd register at all?

  • Duras

    We pay unto Caesar what is Caesar’s so we can reflect, educate, cure, and improve and prolong quality of life.  

    • JobExperience

       At some point it makes more sense to obtain a new vehicle rather  than patch the old clunker. Human reproduction is cheap, easy, rapid and self-sustaining. Are you gonna mess that up to make golems?
      Imagine that flesh-craving, rotten, putrid Reagan zombies lived forever.
      Who wants that? Raise your hands. (And pass the coal tar hair dye)

      • Duras

        Don’t you think that one day, hopefully one day, we will transition out of the Reagan political economy and into a more egalitarian society, a neo-FDR political economy…? 

        The racist South, Evangelical movement has certainly deteriorated the great middle class FDR and the unions built, but it is looking like their moment is passing.

        • JobExperience

          FDR was an Essobee, but he was our Essobee. BHO is no FDR. (How could any mother give her child those initials? Buttholeodor indeed.)

          Did you ever see the cache of letters to FDR and Administration from the starving, sick and enslaved in the National Archives?

          • Duras

            Yeah, I saw some of those letters.  FDR is my political Jesus.  He signed the technical end to slavery in America.  Now, republicans are starting up private prisons, and has Obama said one word about it … I don’t think so. 

            I’m with you to a certain extent about Obama.  But, he is a liberal and he would certainly govern like FDR and not Clinton if the media environment is different.  He’s definitely not in Clinton’s camp.  I know a lot of liberals will disagree with me.   He was extremely cautious in his first term–and I think it is crucial for liberals to get on him and force him to speak about campaign financing, labor, inequality, public education, etc. 

            But I also think there is only so much Obama can do–eventually, liberals got to start organizing–we seriously need to start organizing–and save our public schools and restore our democratically elected republic.

          • JobExperience

             Cornell West doubts Barack was serious when he said “push me.” To Cornell Barack is more like Crack than Justice. I think Obama is a clipped chicken hatched at Harvard, but you can believe in the Easter Bunny if you want.

        • JobExperience

           substitute the  word bust for the word transition

      • Acnestes

        “Imagine that flesh-craving, rotten, putrid Reagan zombies lived forever.”

        That’s basically the teabags, no?

        • JobExperience

           You pays yer money and you makes yer choice. Guns are people, who like to shoot off their mouths. Every shot (or threat) is a vote. Every bullet  is like an embryo with a tiny beating  heart, snuggled within Mothergun. Birth can be murder though.

    • carl_christian

      I love the sentiment — I just wish I had your confidence that it was ever thus and will always be so…

      • Duras

        I think the republic was the healthiest from the time just after the civil rights bill to right before Reagan got elected. 

        Now that we have civil rights behind us, and gay and lesbians are about to have equal rights–we are a campaign finance amendment away from have a real republic where we have equal voice and equal protection under the law.  The amendment better be the real deal though.

  • Expanded_Consciousness

    The 21st century is going to be the century of the brain. Understanding the brain to new levels of sophistication and being able to modify it through nanotechnology, is going to have wide-ranging ramifications. We are our brains!  

    • JobExperience

       The brain doesn’t work without the body. We are a mind-body creature with the brain extending into fingertips and hair follicles. Even more, individuals are not viable organisms without social and cultural contact. A “human” probably consists of a minimum of 8 organisms integrated together in mutual subsistence. Maybe that’s why anomic Capitalist  medicine loses ground (iatrogenic) with each discovery. What is the point of allowing the richest 1% to live 200 years? They are enough of a burden now.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

        Iatrogenic deaths are as common as natural ones now, perhaps even more so. If you value your health stay away from medical institutions. If you value your ability to think, don’t allow corporate science & the government to combine for the purpose of telling you how “normal” thinking MUST be done by all. “There’s a pill for that….” 

        • JobExperience

          You understand so well, my dear friend.
          Let’s flush our meds together and share them with  the fishes.

          I can see you’ve read Ivan Illich- Tools for Conviviality. Please email gramsciforum@gmail.com when convenient.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

            Will do.

    • Don_B1

      A great way to see what is happening is by watching the two “Brain Series” that have run on the Charlie Rose Show, with the assistance of Dr. Eric Kandel, starting in 2009:

      http://www.charlierose.com/view/collection/10702

    • anamaria23

      Understanding the brain may lead to a greater understanding of the roots of addiction in all it’s manifestations.   So much of our society’s  devastation is caused by substance abuse.   Research and treament should be a priority.  Let us hope that this research opens pathways to cures.

  • Shag_Wevera

    The cynic in me can’t help but wonder how this mapping will be used against us.

    • JobExperience

      Degrading products and procedures from transnational corporations without proper testing and no price controls.
      The means for Homeland Security to bust minds like walnuts. These Manhattan Projects funnel money to the worst of the worst: Nixon’s war on cancer, mapping the human genome never amount to much for the typical laborer doing the necessary work to make society go. Outcomes are often pseudoscience for social control.

      • Shag_Wevera

        I agree except for the mapping of our genome and the effect on laborers.  They’ll use it to charge us more for our health insurance.

        • JobExperience

          very insightful, Grasshopper

      • Don_B1

        The battle against cancer is probably more important for lower-income workers who are exposed to more carcinogens than the wealthy, from the emissions from coal power plants to the brownfields their homes and workplaces are built on.

        The knowledge and ability to correct mutations or the effects of mutations of DNA are necessary to fight cancer.

        • JobExperience

           In economics class they taught me that need does not constitute demand under Capitalism. Increased cancer rates are the result of greedy production and research, with prevention and treatment never being the purpose. Do you  hold up abused dogs to solicit money? No one has corrected any DNA despite the money spent on mapping the genome. They have substituted DNA with mixed results, but  use is not widespread. Maybe that’s because the average US income is too low to afford medical bells and whistles.

        • brettearle

          Do we have statistics that back up your claims about cancer incidence being greater, proportionally, among lower-income families and individuals?

          I suspect you’re right–but do we have convincing statistics, do you know, from the NIH or NCI, about this? 

    • anamaria23

      Is there anything you have faith in ?  Or is every initiative a downer for you?

      • JobExperience

        When it comes from a one-party Oligarchic state it is always a downer.

        • carl_christian

          Wondering which one-party Oligarchic state you refer to? Is it the corporate, free-market-obsessed herd of lobbyists that plies each political party with enough money to convince all Senators & Representatives alike that there are no cliffs which are not equipped with safe elevators for the lucky few? If so, I share the same cynicism; unfortunately, thinking critically seems in short supply in Washington DC no matter where you eavesdrop. Our frames of reference are all pretty much limited to a very narrow phase of human history.

          Maybe we citizens could start gifting books to our politicians’ staff like Louis Herman’s “Future Primal” (cf. Jared Diamond’s newest) in the hope that some imaginations might be sparked back into life… And of course there’s always poor, neglected, misunderstood Marx and his cleverly analytical ilk if we just want to comprehend things a little differently.

      • Shag_Wevera

        Believe it or not, I have an basic faith in humanity that we are eventually going to figure all these things out and take good care of ourselves and each other.  Problem for me is, we aren’t anywhere close.  We live in a cannibalistic culture here in America.  Most of the world for that matter.

      • brettearle

        Would you say that we live in a country, or a world, where success rates are greater than failure rates?

    • nj_v2

      Please step into the Neurotron Scanner 4000, Mr. Alvarez.

      : : :  Bzzzzz, hmmmmmm, click… : : :

      We’re sorry, your loan application has been denied because your neural infrastructure indicates a strong predilection toward financially risky behavior.

      Next, please…

      • brettearle

        Wait, I know….

        Let’s fill out a prescription for him, for the new medication, L-dextrofrugality, developed by Glaxo, that will curb his libertine habits.

        Then we can offer him a variable mortgage, without the usual risks.

  • hennorama

     If we map the human brain, will we have finally answered the question “Does the human brain have the capacity to understand itself?”

    • JobExperience

      Does it  have the capacity to comprehend it is not the end all and be all, not the cosmic center?

    • brettearle

      Without the Soul, the Human Brain can’t really understand itself.

      If there is that belief, or if the belief becomes a perceived reality, it ultimately is sham.

      What we must do is Map the Human Soul.

      • Expanded_Consciousness

        There is no human soul. There is just the brain and human consciousness. “The soul” is just a human invention and fiction and interpretation.

        • brettearle

          If I spoke with the grievous weight of authority, that you speak, I would be ruling the Heavens and the Earth.

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            Be the authority versus always looking up from below to someone or something else.

          • brettearle

            “Class,

            “Please watch as Expanded_Consciousness writes, an infinite number of times, on the front blackboard, the following:

            `I, Expanded_Consciousness, promise to look up and recite by heart, and by soul, the deepest meaning of the word, “HUBRIS.”

            ‘I, Expanded_Consciousness promise to look up and recite  by heart, and by soul, the deepest meaning of the word, …..”

            “I, Expanded_Consciousness, promise to look up and recite by heart, and by soul, the deepest meaning of the ……………….”

            “I, Expanded_Consciousness, promise to look up and recite by heart, and by soul, the deepest meaning of…….”

            Class Dismissed.”

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            Enjoy being a sheep, sheep.

            Nietzsche in Thus Spoke Zarathustra:

            “Free, do you call yourself? Then I would hear your ruling thought, and not merely that you have escaped from a yoke. 

            Are you one of those who had the right to escape from a yoke? Many a one has cast away his last worth when he has cast away his servitude. 

            Free from what? What does that matter to Zarathustra! But your fiery eyes should tell me: free for what? 

            Can you give yourself your own evil and good, and set up your own will as a law over you? Can you be judge for yourself, and avenger of your law?”

          • brettearle

            The dysfunction, just above, overwhelms us all.

            To recognize the Soul is to be the captain of one’s own Destiny.

            Bleat!  Bleat! 

  • JobExperience

    Great minds march in locked goose-step again. Same topic as Diane Rehm show. Publicity as diversion from real urgent issues like food safety and pending Oligarch trade agreements.

    • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

      What else can we do other than distract ourselves from the gridlock that prevents us from addressing immediate pain, suffering and corruption?

      • JobExperience

         We must broadcast to the winds that greedy nihilism betrays a lack of imagination. We stopped thinking and have nearly stopped living when we abandon empathy. A false empathy of low priority is being emphasized in this Brain Initiative. It’s all flash like Newt’s Moonstate. John Lennon achieved a soulful resonance with collective consciousness when he wrote Imagine. There is no verse in there about mapping the brain. Maybe the Overlords are looking for the means to disable critical thought at birth. Maybe that’s what happened to Obama’s mind.

    • brettearle

      The Brain Initiative can lead to understanding and then possibly improving human behavior, not to mention, increasing success for mental illness.

      How can anyone see this Research as anything other than essential?

      Research and discovery go on, throughout history–regardless of tragedy and adversity. 

      And that is the way it should be.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    The Brain – the seat of our intelligence and the seed of our demise.

  • SpringHill44

     I’ve had epilepsy, probably since birth, and am now in my early 50s. This has always been something I’ve just had to live with, and have been on different meds since I was 8. I can’t believe there will be a cure for epilepsy in my lifetime, but I hope there will be, for the sake of my kids and for many others whose condition is worse than mine, or who have Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, and other brain disorders.

    To me– and to those people and their families– mapping the brain is MUCH more important than continued space exploration.

  • TomK_in_Boston

    Could be a fine idea – but where will the $ come from in a sequestered USA with deficit chicken littles running amok?  If the funds come from existing minimal research funds, bad idea.  A few weeks ago he was talking about a dedicated energy research fund – I bet we won’t hear about that again. Talk is cheap. This conservadem admin loves to talk about supporting research, but they don’t do it.

    • northeaster17

      He put it in his budget for next year. Hopefully the sequester stuff will just be a bad memory by then

      • TomK_in_Boston

        OK, but he doesn’t get to have “his” budget.

        I expect this is mostly talk, and $100 mil is not much anyway.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

       He can pay for this one by agreeing to forgo about 20 trips to golf with Tiger (or the equivalent).

      • Duras

        Another inane comment.  If they scanned your brain, republicans would have a case against wasteful spending. 

        • WorriedfortheCountry

           You are certainly entitled to your opinion (inane or not).  However, my implied point was that there are priorities to spending.  There is tremendous waste in our $3.7T spending level and they could probably cut 20% without cutting service levels significantly.

          This program proposal (or some other expansion of basic brain research) does sound like it has merit and I would vote to make it a priority over many other things we spend Federal resources.  Of course we are also borrowing 40% of every dollar spent so maybe there needs to be some painful cuts — somewhere.

          • Duras

            The CBO says that our deficits are driven by revenue problems, health care costs, and military.

            Why don’t you do a little Cathesian Method, doubt away your dogmatism, and tax the rich (like this country used to do) let Obamacare cut the fraud (like it has been doing) and quit blowing up nations of brown people!

            Get serious!  

          • WorriedfortheCountry

             Actually the rich pay a higher share of income taxes than ever before.  When 50% don’t contribute, it is hard to raise enough revenue.  You can than George W. Bush for that with his ‘Bush’ tax cuts.

            Obamacare has cut the fraud?  Wow.  That is news.  Any citations?

          • Duras

            For the first time since the pre-Depression era, 400 of the richest Americans have more money than 50% of America. 

            Yes, Obamacare is cutting fraud, why do you think the doctors hate it?  What do you think those “death panels” are about? 

            For the nine-hundredth time, Obama and Ryan cut the same amount from medicare–have you ever cared to look at whose cuts target what? 

            http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/06/fact-checking-romney-does-health-reform-cut-medicare-levy-500-billion-tax/

            http://www.hhs.gov/asl/testify/2009/04/t20090422a.html

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patient_Protection_and_Affordable_Care_Act

            Moreover, cut government where government is actually bloated i.e., the military.

            Second, Immigration reform will allow more younger tax payers to support the older generation.  Might want to think about that kind of stuff before you vote to make senior citizens poorer.

            Revenues, Healthcare, and Military are the real issues.  All that other stuff is for ideological idiots who want to dumb down this country and protect a plutocracy (whether you are conscious of it or not). 

            There is nothing wrong with the tax rates that existed during the greatest periods of American capitalism. Get over it!  Moreover, the CBO says that a big spender will be the debt interest payments we will have to pay once the interest rates go up–which means that if we don’t raise taxes on people who can afford them, we will actually be spending more.  How’s that for an ideological conundrum.

            Of course, I don’t have to deal with that type of ideological conundrum because I’m not dogmatic. 

          • TomK_in_Boston

            Taxes are killing the poor rich folks and their corporations, that’s why they have more of the wealth and income than any time since 1929.

          • Duras

            Yeah, 33 years of Reaganism, and all of the sudden taxes are too high on the rich and it is the left wing’s style of spending taking us down….

          • Duras

            And I’m sick of this “the rich pay a higher share of the income taxes” crap.  How many times do I have to debunk this propaganda?  The rich have a higher tax burden because they have most of the nation’s wealth.  If there were strong labor unions, the 50% you talk about would have a higher tax burden. 

            I don’t care how I come across–stop being a stupid idiot.

            The rest of this country would love to have a higher tax burden because it would mean that 99% of this country will be taking the percentage of income derived from national GDP that used to exist before Reagan. 

            So thanks for proving the liberals’ point once again, but I bet that you will disseminate the same propaganda talking point without counterargument. Because you have no integrity. It is just like the time you defended Ryan for not backing Simpson-Bowles while criticizing Obama for not backing Simpson-Bowles. You are in a dogmatic slumber, and I think you should reevaluate your ethics, your motives, and your beliefs.

            Either admit that you like the idea of plutocracies and poverty, or wake up to the fact that republicanism has been killing the 99% of this country and now one else.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

             Wow!!!  I’m speechless.

            So much wrong in your post and no time.

          • Duras

            Oh please, stepping on unions the last 33 years, causing a consentration of wealth at the top means that the tax burden on top has to go up (not matter what the spending levels are) because they have more of the nation’s wealth.  Get real. 

          • nj_v2

            Those poor, rich folks.

            This stupid meme never rises above tiresome.

            They pay a higher share because they own control almost all the f***ing wealth of the country!!

            Wealth gap is almost unprecedented, and people like WorriedfortheRich regurgitate this over and over.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

             We are spending at 24.5% of GDP.  The GDP is back to pre-recession levels but spending is much higher that the 18%-20% norm.

            Sorry. It is mostly a spending problem.  Revenues are at 17% of GDP.

          • nj_v2

            Yeah, all that money wasted on Solyndra and welfare queens driving around in Cadillacs.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

             Solyndra wasn’t a waste?

            Even uber-liberal Joe Klein is railing against Obama’s incompetence today.

            http://swampland.time.com/2013/04/02/obamacare-incompetence/

        • TomK_in_Boston

          Lots of idle time, not much else to do.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jim.castronovo Jim Castronovo

    My father suffered from a unique degeneration of his mind. My grandmother suffered from Parkinson’s disease. I know others who suffer from MS. Often times I see elderly people whose limbs shake -maybe because of a neurological degeneration of one sort or another. I myself suffer from tinnitus. I fully support the president’s $100 million initiative for the basic research in the brain activity map. Let’s do it!

    • JobExperience

      So you prefer a $100 millionton blockbuster to natural remedies for your tinnitus? Did you ever consider that efficacious supplements could be cheaper than your higher taxes for this research. Like a dog crushed by a car some patients and their minds cannot be restored or saved. Sympathy for a loved one often clouds reasoning, so I don’t blame you. I just disagree. I am nearing death with a cluster of maladies but I avoid modern medicine because it has repeatedly cost me dearly. My mind has been affected as my body has deteriorated and that is why I understand that no organ can be treated or healed in isolation from the whole person. I hope you have not inherited your father’s condition.

      • Dillard

         autoimune lupus since the middle of my 30′s now in wheelchair. my WORSE health decision was to start cortico-steroids 9 years ago: muscle wasting, bone-dissolving, diabetes-generating, fat depositing, skin-thinning west side of heck from the treatment?

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.weiskel Tim Weiskel

    Isn’t anyone uncomfortable with the entire premise of “brain” research? Doesn’t anyone remember that brain research was one of the main rationales and justifications that the state has always used (in the former Soviet Union, and China, for example) for incarcerating dissidents and “helping” them overcome their problems of “mental health?”

    • brettearle

      Not all societies, that follow capitalism and democracy, fall victim to Fascism.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.weiskel Tim Weiskel

    What are the limits proposed for this “unlimited” research?

  • Cory Heaton

    How about like 10 to 20 years down, is there a consumer benefit to this project?

    • JobExperience

       Delicious canned brains replace Spam entirely.

  • maat11

    As a person with Parkinson’s, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful – however, just in 2011, NIH spent $603 million on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. $100 million seems… Insufficient.

    • Dillard

       to say nothing of autoimmune diseases like thyroiditis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, antiphospholipd antibody, psoriasis, scleroderma, sjogren’s, mctd, dvt, etc which probably affect a potential 1:3 of USA 

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.weiskel Tim Weiskel

    What is the limit of “brain” research?  Are political opponents by definition “crazy?”  If we can map how their brains work, will we be able to “administer medication” to them (either with or without their permission — or even without their knowledge) to help them overcome their “abnormalities” so that they can rejoin the “mainstream” thinking?

    • JobExperience

       Crazy like a fox.

  • ttllrr

    My mother died of glioblastoma, the same brain cancer that killed Ted Kennedy ad one of the most deadly of all cancers. As a cancer researcher involved in oncology drug development, I’m shocked by how few pharma and biotech companies will invest in developing brain cancer chemotherapy drugs because of the perceived small market or that the science isn’t “sexy” enough. Will this project finally convince industry to finally address a cure for brain cancer?

    • brettearle

      It may be–though unlikely–that the Government will simply have to offer incentives to medical researchers, in order to study diseases with less percentage of incidence.

      How else can it be done?

      The money, for one, is going to go where there is the most need.

  • J__o__h__n

    Why are the brain experts discussing the brain and not Obamacare, flat taxes, the economy, and various social issues

    • JobExperience

       They have a script.

  • Anita Paul

    the major things that we have developed have come a lot from the military.  Why do Republicans always re-write history.

    • JobExperience

      The military considers revisionism a vital part of counterinsurgency and Psy-ops. Rich Republicans always thank war criminals for their service. Thank the military for those longer magazines (not Vogue and Good Housekeeping).

  • Michele Sacconaghi

    7.5% of children and adolescents are estimated to have ADHD. Will this research help them?

    • JobExperience

      Yes. It will expose the corporate agenda as pseudoscience and we will understand that ADHD is only a label denoting people not immediately useful to profiteering.

      • Dillard

         a lot of truth here. homo sapiens requires 12 years of classrooms for food and housing for the last 150 or 100,000 years of existence? ADD/ADHD are probably evolutionary to the lack of industrialization…

  • ToyYoda

    I do like this project, but I wonder if we are giving people false hopes?  I am skeptical that this will leads to cures for mental diseases that appear to be at the neuron level or due to old age.

    It seems to me, that mapping the brain in the hopes of finding alzheimer cures is like mapping the highways in the hopes of knowing why our bridges are rusting or why potholes form.

    • JobExperience

       excellent analogy…. and it’s just another committee to study “the problem”…. what was that problem again?

  • nj_v2

    Maybe an initiative to develop forum software that works.

    • JobExperience

       And is independent of a corporate agenda and censorship.

  • carl_christian

    Along with the dollars spent on brain research, I would like to see truly visionary leadership by our President and let him create a Cabinet-level Department of Peace & Cooperation; otherwise what good will it be if we comprehend the science of the brain? And the new Secretary of Peace & Cooperation might begin their research with a careful meditation on William James’ essay, The Moral Equivalent of War. Without such a Cabinet post — separate from the Pentagon’s notion of war & peace — I have little confidence that brain research will really add to the quality of everyone’s lives, including the planet’s many ‘non-human’ lives.

  • Priscilla Newcomb

    In the West there are underlying assumptions of brain/mind/consciousness that may be false. If this research is going to be directed by a committee of people with Western science bias, this endeavor could well be akin to a dog chasing its tail.
    Concerning the CNN quote above as example, there are people who are reversing autism through diet. This one example defies the Cartesian dualism bias that limits Western medicine and psychology theories and practices.

    • JobExperience

       It could be a disaster if the tail is caught in a society where the tail wags the dog.

  • DrTing

    Mapping the brian- Excellent & exciting idea.
    at least inspire scientists to focus on brian research
    to discover new & safe medicines
    also gives scientists hope! 
    Brian controls the whole body and we should support this project 1000%.

    • JobExperience

       But what if each brain is unique?

  • dallas rolnick

    I think Michael was making the important point about allocation of funding: it should go to individual innovators, or at least have very limited centralized control/definition.

  • Bruce94

    This very hour, I imagine, the Tea Party zombies are organizing in opposition to this research and planning to “Stand with Rand” as he filibusters the BRAIN Initiative, which the Party of Cro-Mag Conservatism predicts will be DOA “cause ‘brains’ is what we eat down hee-ya and you cain’t find no ‘BRAIN Initiative’ in duh Constitution.  Besides we ain’t got ’nuff money in duh budget for it.”

    • TomK_in_Boston

      Exactly. BHO loves to TALK about supporting research, like his dedicated fund for energy research from 2 weeks ago. Talk is cheap. Whether the TeaOP blocks it or the conservadem really doesn’t care enough to push it, the result is the same.

      Doesn’t seem to stop the corporate media from going ahead and assuming the talk is reality.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

       Kill the Obamaphone program and you’ll have plenty of cash to pay for this new spending.

      Oh wait,  we are still borrowing 40 cents of every dollar spent.  Never mind!

      • Bruce94

        I know, the old canard that we need to run the Fed. budget like an individual/family household budget.  Only problem with such bunk is that it ignores the “paradox of thrift” and the reality that in a weak post-recession economy, if we all rein in spending and balance our budgets (i.e. de-leverage) at the same time, we kill the economic recovery and job growth unless govt. provides some stimulus (i.e. demand). 

        Insofar as borrowing is concerned, interest rates are at historic lows, and many non-partisan economists believe now IS precisely the time to raise revenues and borrow if necessary in order to make the investments in basic research, education, training and infrastructure that are required to build a future of broad-based growth and prosperity. 

        • WorriedfortheCountry

           Talk about canards.

          Right now we are ‘all-in’ with generational theft.  Not all spending is beneficial and it certainly isn’t ‘free’.

          It has been 4 years since the last $1T stimulus.  The ‘stimulus’ was actually much larger since deficit spending IS stimulus ($6+T).  In the ’30s we built the Hoover dam as part of a stimulus. We are still reaping the benefits.  Where is Obama’s Hoover Dam?

          btw – what is the duration of the national debt?  What will the interest rate be in 5 years when the debt turns over. The debt burden will quickly overtake the budget.  It has happened before.

          http://www.usdebtclock.org/

          • TomK_in_Boston

            There seems to be a problem with the Disqus software, it keeps regurgitating deficit hysteria at regular intervals.

          • Bruce94

            Yes, I too have noticed that glitch. 

            The deficit hysteria is less about the debt and more about providing a smokescreen for Cro-Mag Conservatives and Tea Partiers to gut Social Security, Medicare and the rest of the social safety-net put in place since the New Deal.  It’s all about shrinking the Fed. govt. to the point where “it can be drowned in a bathtub” — a radical agenda which folks like Worried seem to want to pursue in spite of the results of the last election and the clear will of the majority of Americans.  

          • WorriedfortheCountry

             We aren’t in danger of a shrinking Federal government.  Get back to me when we get spending below 18% of GDP.  We have a looong way to go.

          • Bruce94

            The “generational theft,” a concept that might have different meanings depending on your generation, cannot be ascribed solely to the stimulus, fed. spending or the deficits over the last four years.  We have the toxic policies that Bush II either created or doubled-down on including two wars and a prescription drug program he refused to pay for AND tax cuts for the wealthy, free trade without reciprocity as well as de-regulation of Wall St. and Real Estate that crashed our economy resulting in the Great Recession. What about the “generational theft” of entire life savings being wiped out overnight, millions of people thrown out of work and students with no prospects of finding gainful employment thanks mainly to the cumulative effects of the irresponsible spending, war making and regulatory lapses of the Bush II administration?

            I haven’t looked at the debt clock in a while, but the last time I checked about $1T existed before 1981, Reagan added $3T, Bush I added $1T, Clinton added $2T (but left a budget surplus), and Bush II added to the debt by about $5T.  Hence, roughly 50% of the existing debt can be attributed to irresponsible Reagan/Bush II tax cuts, trade and  regulatory policies, pre-emptive wars AS WELL AS the effort still underway to repair the damage from same (recovery from recession).

            The “debt crisis” is manufactured for one reason:  to give Congress and Cro-Mag Conservatives a smokescreen to gut Medicare, Social Security and the rest of the social safety-net put in place since the New Deal, in other words, to reduce the size and scope of govt. to where  “it can be drowned in a bathtub” — a radical agenda that most people rejected in the Nov. election, but still must be re-litigated from time to time due to the intransigence and fear-mongering of the Far Right. 

            BTW the original stimulus was $787B, and in hindsight most experts agree it was sufficient to prevent another 30′s style-Depression, but NOT big enough to bring the unemployment rate down below 7-8% in the time frame anticipated.  Another reason it could not generate growth fast enough was that Cro-Mag Republicans were successful initially getting concessions that deprived Cities and States and Infrastructure
            of needed funding in favor of more tax cuts with less stimulative effect.

  • JobExperience

     They’re mapping it, not repairing it.
    They ain’t gonna be no freebees.

  • Art Sherwood

    Michael is incorrect regarding innovation. The peer review process is biased for the status quo. This is a breakthrough idea that wouldn’t get there through the usual mechanisms.

  • TELew

    After reading a few of the comments here, it reminds me of how the Catholic Church forbade researching the human body in the medieval and Renaissance periods.

    Mapping the brain=scientific advancements

    It’s as simple as that.

    • Bruce94

       You might even say a decision to move forward on this research is a “no-brainer.”  :-)

  • The_Truth_Seeker

    He promotes this while at the same time helping to completely destroy our 200+ year old patent system because our corrupt, “bought-out”, Congress, asked him to (i.e. the quietly passed “America Invents Act”:).

  • The_Truth_Seeker

    How many young new PhD’s will be asked to participate and get paid at least $100K???? Won’t the “usual suspects” end up getting all the money and funding? 

    • ExcellentNews

      You must be living in an Ayn Rand novel. New Ph.D.s in government labs get paid not much more than at working at WallMart.

      How about that $150,000,000 bonus to the CEO of Massie Energy, the coal company who sucks about 2 billion/year of taxpayer money and threatens workers who complain about safety with dismissal????

      • The_Truth_Seeker

        I don’t think you understand what I was getting at. I was implying that very few “young”, un-established researchers, or “outsiders” will be asked to help with this research – only those already getting large grants will get more grants. But what does Massie Energy have to do with brain mapping or medical R&D??????

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Spencer-Doidge/1223386779 Spencer Doidge

    I would support this if I knew that some tiny group of investors wasn’t going to use it to claim patents on my neurons. Our money funding research and the patent office enabled a few oligarchs to hijack our food supply, the seeds that it comes from, and even parts of our own bodies. I don’t want my tax dollars funding another hijacking. In the long run we are better off without the science if it entails giving over our life functions to an oligarchy.

  • spyectr

    $100 mil is just the budget of a half dozen labs, how are we going to compete with the $1.4 bil the EU put down? We are going to see a huge brain drain to the EU. 

    • ExcellentNews

      It has been happening for 10+ years already (since the end of the Clinton years, actually). The best and brightest of Europe do not even bother to come here anymore. The best and brightest from Asia come here, learn, and go back to start companies that are nurtured by their governments until they get strong enough to eat our lunch. Meanwhile, our country is effectively ran by an unlikely coalition of fundamentalists, predatory bankers, and vapid CEOs with dazzling pompadours…

      • The_Truth_Seeker

        The AIA will be the END of independent invention in this country – that’s for sure. People will just have to get used to the most exiting new technologies in their lives being the latest IPhone-50!.

  • spyectr

    The sequester is slashing 8% of the NIH and NSF funding this year, this new funding is nothing close to restoring previous budgets cuts.

    • The_Truth_Seeker

      Yes, its a joke and another problem is that the head of the NIH is a “theist”. That can’t really be good for science – that was a politically correct appointment by Obama too.

  • TomK_in_Boston

    This is a joke. Funding rates for all medical research have been falling and have now fallen all the way into the toilet with sequester. Students who thought they would do science are hurrying to find Plan B. So the right and BHO tear down our whole R&D complex and want to distract our attention with a proposal for a relatively small initiative in a sexy area. Give me a break. It probably won’t even happen, like the dedicated energy research fund that was the talk 2 weeks ago.

    • The_Truth_Seeker

      It’ll now get even worse with passage and full implementation of the AIA (“America Invents Act”) that almost overwhelmingly passed the Congress and Obama signed without any problem. This decimation of Constitutionally guaranteed rights, that have existed pretty much unchanged for over 200 years, will make it all but impossible for younger researchers and inventors to get patents on their new ideas – ergo – even less incentive for them to stay in science, or technology fields.  It was just another giveaway to the large multinationals who love what it does for them and was basically written by their lobbyists. Obama gives a little with one hand, and then agrees with Congress to take a lot more with the other hand!

      • TomK_in_Boston

        Exactly right. It’s good for the big corps and bad for individuals and startups. I know a little about the “AIA” because my wife is in a biotech startup and nobody in that community thinks it’s a good thing.

        • The_Truth_Seeker

          Well, people like her need to speak up and the constitutionality of the AIA needs to be seriously questioned (not accepted). I, for one think it violates a number of provisions in the Constitution, the not least of which are the equal protection clauses (since now only wealthy individuals and corporations will be able to afford to get “good” patent protection). Less than 2-3% of American innovators will be able to afford getting protection for their creative efforts. That’s “crap” and wasn’t the intent of the Founders. Indeed, I am pretty sure they intended that any American who wanted to and something of value could obtain a patent on those creative contributions, whether they were (already) rich, or poor. It was part of what became the “American dream” – to be able to invent something of value and then be able to move up the economic ladder. You can’t climb a ladder if people are removing the rungs as you go. Please tell your wife to speak up much more loudly. So far, it looks like I am the ONLY ONE saying ANYTHING online against the AIA. Why didn’t the news media (especially the business news media) cover it at all??

          I am predicting a 10%-30% decline in American innovation and start-up formation as a result of the AIA alone. And then, Obama touts Brain Mapping as a “job creator” – don’t think so!

  • Jeff_Thinschmidt

    It surely will hold us back, these nickels and dimes are nothing compared to what we expect the NIH budgets cuts to be to neuroscience labs. This is nonsense, and directing funds to lobyists of the “dream team”. Overall, our field will be hurt in the near future subtantially from proposed budget cuts, this is a sour grape.

  • Marty Garvey

    Just finished reading a bunch of these comments. WOW! Are all scientists left wing fringe liberals who fear for their jobs every day? You guys must be a real riot at a party. I’d rather listen to Tea Party drivel all day than spend an hour with you whiners. And while you are bitching about the sequester taking all of your funding, remember that the sequester was an 8% cut in the RATE OF GROWTH of government spending. You make it sound like it was a real cut! Quit whining and go back to work.

    • Bruce94

      Your comment is reminiscent of Phil (Enron Loophole) Gramm (R-TX) who as John McCain’s sidekick at the onset of the Great Recession famously said “we have become a nation of whiners,” and then went on to dismiss the  economic collapse that he and his ilk helped to engineer as a “mental recession.” 

      Of course, McCain had the common sense to promptly dismiss him from his campaign and distance himself from his ridiculous comment–just as the majority have come to understand despite your ridiculous comment, over time people will be hurt by these sequester cuts because in a weak post-recession economy with high unemployment, we cannot afford the fiscal insanity and rank stupidity that these cuts represent.  Per the BLS the number of unemployed persons per job opening now stands at 3.3, nearly twice the pre-recession ratio.

      By all means, tea party on…   

    • http://www.facebook.com/4himalone71 Heather Sebring

      That “8% cut in the RATE OF GROWTH of government spending” didn’t cut the rate of cost in what government has to purchase.  Soldiers can’t go back to work because their humvees, tanks and helicopters can’t get authorization to purchase parts so they can be fixed to go out in the field for training.  Majority of basewide unit field training has been canceled because fuel and food funding has been rationed.  Maintenance of Certification for pilots, firefighters, medical personal is going out of date because funding for schools has been cut.  Life saving equipment that needed to be replaced or updated (firefighter burn suits, hoses, safety straps that keep rescue soldiers from falling out of helicopters during hoisting operations) is put on hold because the cost for these items kept rising but the money to purchase them did not.  So Marty…it is not whining and many government people can NOT simply go back to work – they have been furloughed (forced NOT TO GO BACK TO WORK) without pay!

  • Kenneth Rubenstein

    I think that in his concluding comments referencing the Dalai Lama, Christof Koch misrepresented his stated view as supporting the kind of approach Koch and the others favor. My understanding is that he supports rational scientific approaches as Koch indicates, but does not prejudge whether the mind is what the brain does, or whether the brain is a transducer or receiver for the mind. Right now, there really is no science that bears directly on this question. Rather we have promissory materialism (someday that view will be vindicated, because, uh, we like it).

    • brettearle

       On some level, isn’t possible to see these two phenomena–`the mind is what the brain does or the brain is a receiver for the mind’–to be one and the same?

      • Kenneth Rubenstein

        I don’t think so. It’s really a question of whether comes from the bottom up or the top down. To put it another way, who’s the boss, the body or the mind?

        • brettearle

          I do not believe that Form and Function can be so delineated, as to separate mind from brain or brain from mind.

          It’s too symbiotic.

          If life could be defined by the Theory of Relativity, then I might begin to agree.

          But Life is not defined by it.

          There’s too much to Life that I don’t think we know.

          Therefore, we can only offer a `gentle method of approximation’ when considering these `constructs’ (I hate that word–but I feel compelled to use it, here).

  • Ehren Biglari

    Far too little, far too late. But don’t get me wrong, I’m ALL for it. It’s just not enough. We need a $10 billion dollar branch of government dedicated to this research, not merely a $100 million program (although, this is a step in the right direction). This research will pay out a million times over (at least). Just as NASA explores space, we need a “NASA” for brain science. The human brain is THE most complicated structure in the known universe, and we have considered it as scientifically “off-limits” for far too long. In any case, it’s better now than never. I look forward to the results and applications that will inevitably come out of this critical research.

    • The_Truth_Seeker

      Face it, science and innovation is on a steep path to decline over the next 1-2 decades. The 21st century won’t be anything like the 20th century, when it comes to science, technology, invention and space exploration (with the exception maybe of robotic exploration). Medical research will probably be the only field to that we will make significant gains in (including “brain mapping”).

      On a related note, the Japanese say they are already able to do rudimentary reading of people’s dreams (really crude though).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1424976479 Allen Horner

     Listened to yesterday, an interesting program on a subject near and dear to the heart of Barack Hussein Obama — the brain (actually, I think the brain is closer to his butt, but that’s not cliche).

    Not really covered here, but you know is in the background, is mind control and interrogation. Coupled with stem-cell created body parts to implant with synthetic minds, we may on day have the ultimate servant of the state.  Add to that burgeoning electronic surveillance (all those drone flying around, cameras on the street corner, etc), and now further restrictions on the right to bear arms, you’ve got the makings of a bell-ringing totalitarian state (or, at least, a good novel).

    Far fetched? Maybe not in the near future but the future has time and we have plenty of misguided leaders and a gullible constituency. That’s all the Nazis needed.

  • rg1000

    I cringe every time you report on a “new initiative”.  Please get out your dictionary and look up the word initiative. 

    • ExcellentNews

      The excessive overuse of redundant oxymoron like “new initiative” is a firmly established tradition…

  • L armond

    It is just going to be a map.  It will  tell us no more than we already know about what stresses and degrades the mind of humans and other species, their interaction with their environment, and feeling invisible.  No medication or treatment can be derived for the brain that will offset the stresses of the effect of global warming and sea rise, and drought that will stress human beings as a species.  This is simple stimulus and response – a new map to make because there is access to new territory by new techniques.  

    • Dillard

       I wish this was true. The medical/pharmaceutical industrial complex has a shareholder imperative to profit by drug consumption. With boomers facing Alzheimers, the kids getting clobbred by ADHD and autism, the people are primed to reach for a non-environmetal/non-pollution/non-GMO cause and get those scripts mapped to the neuron.

  • ExcellentNews

    Warning! Right wing trolls below!

    I was wondering, how could anyone object to investing 100 million into brain research, considering (a) $1 invested in R&D returns over $100 to the economy, (b) the amount is 1 DAY of taxpayer subsidies for coal mining or tobacco farming, (c) the topic is likely to be of high future utility, (d) Europe and China are already massively investing in similar research. 

    I guess the corporate propaganda machine against Obama is mindlessly spinning, grinding us further in the race to the bottom.

    • The_Truth_Seeker

      Well Obama signed the, so called, “America Invents Act” that was written by large corporate lobbyists, only benefits large multinational corporations who can afford to file patents every week (at $15K-$25K a pop) and the media and liberals said nothing, NOTHING!!!, even though the right of ALL Americans to be able to file a patent on their creative research efforts was guaranteed in the original Constitution (not like the 2nd Amendment). Imagine if Obama signed legislation that made it effectively impossible for all but 3% of the population to be able to by a gun (any gun)!!!! Do you have a spare $15K-$25K to get a patent on something you thought of? Do have $1M to hunt down and prosecute those who can now steal your idea and file a patent on it before you can? Microsoft, Apple, Ford, GM, etc. have no problem with the changes put through on March 16 of this year. Did you hear about those? Concerned that now mostly just large multinationals will be able to profit from R&D down the road? Concerned that start-ups will have it harder than ever to get off the ground? Obama certainly wasn’t. Congress certainly wasn’t. What are you talking about?!!! Obama is in pretty much the same bed as Repubs, when it comes to large corporations and the banks. What has he changed? Is any banker in jail? Has he started any programs to help fund independent inventors in America? These people could also return 50-100 times the investment we might make in them, as well – we don’t give them a dime (even if they are successful in their research). When university researchers fail, we say we learned a lot form their work and go on to give them another $1M grant to “try again”. When an independent researcher, or inventor fails, it’s called bankruptcy. See a difference?

      No, Obama is no friend to the poor, or the underfunded independent researcher, or small start-up, or to small business, in general (just like the Repubs).

      You’ll have to wait a long time for the next Google, Facebook, Ebay, Tesla, Microsoft, Apple, etc. The 21st century could be the death of the independent inventor and researcher.

      Don’t defend Obama so much. He’s better than any Repub, but that might not be saying all that much. Let’s see what he does about gun control. Let’s see what happens to American innovation over the next 5-10 years. I predict it will go down by 10%-30%.

  • Dillard

     let’s see, we can ‘grow justice’ with prisons-for-profit! how? mandatory minimums for broke pot heads and candy shop lifters, and when we run out of them head for the crystal folk in rural. guaranteed shareholders value with 3 strikes your out. now we have more people in the system than the Russian gulag. recessions effect on state revenue is the only thing to slow the mid 80′s juggernaut. keep your anti-poor, 99% initiatives.

  • Dillard

     prisons whose ceo s guarantee full beds.

  • Dillard

     Henrietta Lacks of Hopkins

  • Dillard

     huge productivity = huge un- and under- employment, global

  • Bill Gibson

     Will this turn out to be another “Shovel Ready” project where a bunch of money gets spent and there is nothing to show for it at the end?  If you’re gonna shovel, then make sure North Carolina gets it’s fair share.

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