Brain Activity Map Project Could Cure Alzheimer's, Among Other Benefits

The National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation are planning a 10-year project to gather more information about the human brain. The plan is expected to be proposed next month and could cost billions of dollars in an effort to further scientific advancement.

Government officials are calling the effort The Brain Activity Map Project and it consists of a team of federal agencies, private foundations, neuroscientist and nonscientists. Diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's may benefit from the project, as scientists may develop the technology making it possible to further understand these baffling medical conditions. New treatments for various forms of medical illnesses may be discovered and the project may contribute to advancements in artificial intelligence.

President Obama referenced brain research in his State of the Union address, stating, "Today our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer's. They're developing drugs to regenerate damaged organs, devising new materials to make batteries 10 times more powerful. Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation."

In 1990, the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health coordinated and launched The Human Genome Project, which set out to investigate human DNA through in-depth research and analysis. Costing $3.8 billion upon completion, it reached its goal of completely mapping all genes found in Human DNA in 2003. The 13-year project turned out to be beneficial to the economy, so much that its impact pumped $800 billion dollars back into the U.S. economic system by 2012. "Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy — every dollar," said President Obama.

Representatives from technology giants Google, Microsoft and Qualcomm were commissioned to access and confirm the computing facilities to obtain and analyze the data from the project. It's reported that these companies participated in a meeting with three government agencies and a team of scientists in January. Scientists who attended the planning meetings said that The Office of Science and Technology will organize the Brain Activity Map Project. 

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