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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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