Researchers Reach Milestones in Brain-Mapping Projects

April 22, 2014 in News

Two groups of researchers have reported significant progress in building databases and maps of the brain to spur future research in neuroscience, the New York Times reports.

Project Details

One project, which involves a coalition of 80 researchers and is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, aims to create an atlas of the developing human brain. The project, called BrainSpan, has successfully mapped the genetic activity of the human fetal brain. The researchers said the map highlights areas of the brain that could play a role in the development of autism.

Another project — consisting of 33 researchers, including 32 from the Allen Institute for Brain Science — recently announced that it has created an atlas of the mouse brain detailing the connections of 295 different regions.

Foundation for Future Research

According to the Times, the atlas research projects are meant to serve as a foundation for future research projects, such as President Obama’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, or BRAIN, initiative (Gorman, New York Times, 4/21).   

Last year, Obama announced the brain mapping initiative, which could help researchers discover new ways to treat Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke and other neurological conditions.

Observers have noted that the BRAIN initiative, which received $100 million in funding, could spur the development of new IT tools and help computer scientists develop new information processing architectures and design principles (iHealthBeat, 4/3/13).

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