The BRAIN Initiative would require a 100 million dollar "initial" investment into research that would record brain activity "at the speed of thought," according to the White House. The goals are "unclear," but will be defined through an NIH "working group."
"BRAIN" stands for Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, as reported by Townhall.com. According to the White House, the initiative fits into President Obama's call for "historic investments in research and development to fuel the innovation, job creation, and economic growth that together create a thriving middle class" during his State of the Union Address. The group will be co-chaired by Cornelia "Cori" Bargmann of Rockefeller University, who has been praised for her work on "genes and behavior." Last year, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, president of Rockefeller, said:
- "Cori's research on understanding the interaction between environment, experience, and the neural circuits involved in the C. elegans olfactory system have illuminated, in exquisite detail, some of the fundamental relationships between genes and behavior."
There is something creepy about trying to predict people's behavior by studying their genes but putting that aside; how about the money that has already been allocated for brain research? One would imagine that the goals of the BRAIN Initiative must be different than the goals for the millions of dollars for brain research already allocated by the National Institutes of Health (i.e., the taxpayer)? Or the 40 million dollars already awarded to "map the human brain's connections in high resolution," for example? Or, the 4.5 million already awarded by the NIH "to develop and test neurotechnology products."
Whatever became of that research? According to the Townhall piece, Bargmann "would work on defining the goals and develop a multi-year plan to achieve them that included cost estimates." They do not yet "know" the goals?
Pardon the author's skepticism, but considering that seventy-one colleges and universities have endowments of more than $1 billion dollars; it is not a stretch to think that this type of research can be funded without further burdening the taxpayer.
Image Source: Townhall