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Obama's big brain project, scanned

April 02, 2013|By Cherry Gee
  • President Obama announces the administration's BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative at the White House on Tuesday.
President Obama announces the administration's BRAIN (Brain Research… (Alex Wong / Getty Images )

President Obama on Tuesday announced the "BRAIN Initiative" to map the human brain. "As humans we can identify galaxies light-years away, study particles smaller than an atom, but we still haven't unlocked the mystery of the 3 pounds of matter than sits between our ears," Obama said.

Obama will propose $100 million in federal funding in his 2014 budget to kick-start the public-private project, whose formal title is "Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies." He said it would  help find cures for diseases as well as create jobs. "Imagine if we could reverse traumatic brain injury and PTSD for our wounded veterans coming home," he said. "Ideas are what power our economy. It's what sets us apart. It's what America has been all about."

But some see a downside to such a mega-project, which is expected to continue for 10 years and cost billions of dollars. In an Op-Ed article last month for The Times, psychology professor Christopher Chabris of Union College in New York warned that putting so much into a single project could supplant funding for smaller-scale research seeking answers to many important  questions.  He recommends "letting a thousand flowers bloom rather than planting one ginormous tree."

Read the entire Op-Ed article here.

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