The human brain is one crazy computer, and while it's been around for ages, there's still a lot to learn about how it works. To that end, the Obama Administration is revving up to announce a 10-year plan to create a comprehensive map of the human brain, just like the one we have of the human genome. To know thyself, right?
The project is expected to be announced sometime as early as March, when its cost of billions of dollars works its way into the annual budget proposal. The specifics of the plan are neither final or known at the moment, but the plan's general goal seems to be not only to better understand the brain for the good of all mankind, but also to stimulate job-growth in the science field, of course.
It's a promising proposition, considering how well the Human Genome project when down. Started in 1990 and costing around $US3.8 billion, the project managed to get a comprehensive map created before the deadline, provided a solid base for further genetic research, and returned its investment over 100-fold. Likewise, a map of the human brain could be invaluable for the study of diseases like Alzheimer's, autism and schizophrenia. And who knows what else we might find in there.
According to scientists from some of the research institutes that will be involved in the project, there are a handful of government organisations involved as well, most notably DARPA, and planning meetings also included representatives from tech industry giants like Google, Microsoft, and Qualcomm. Once the project gets rolling, it's going to take years before it really pays off, but the promise of a comprehensive brain-map is exciting no matter how long it takes. [New York Times]