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Obama unveils initiative to study human brain

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-04-03 10:24

Obama unveils initiative to study human brain

US President Barack Obama announces his administration's Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative at the White House in Washington, April 2, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama on Tuesday unveiled a 100-million-US-dollar initiative to unlock the mystery of human brain in hopes of eventually finding cures for disorders like Alzheimer's, epilepsy and traumatic injuries.

The initiative, dubbed Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, or BRAIN, is to be funded from the fiscal 2014 federal budget, which is slated to be released next week.

"The BRAIN Initiative will accelerate the development and application of new technologies that will enable researchers to produce dynamic pictures of the brain that show how individual brain cells and complex neural circuits interact at the speed of thought," the White House said in a statement.

"These technologies will open new doors to explore how the brain records, processes, uses, stores and retrieves vast quantities of information, and shed light on the complex links between brain function and behavior."

The money to study the brain would support research by the US National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation.

In his State of the Union address in February, Obama said, "If we want to make the best products, we also have to invest in the best ideas," and alluded to scientists "mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer's."

The initiative is one of the Obama administration's "Grand Challenges" -- ambitious but achievable goals that require advances in science and technology. In his remarks Tuesday, Obama called on companies, research universities, foundations, and philanthropists to join him in identifying and pursuing the Grand Challenges of the 21st century.

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