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Brain Mapping – in 2014 there will be a big push forward.

January 9, 2014

This year will be very significant in the study of the human brain.

In a special November issue Nature magazine declared:

We are entering the golden age of brain science, at least in terms of funding, if not yet understanding. This year, the European Union and United States announced separate long-term programmes to study the human brain that, together, could pour more than US$2 billion into neuroscience during the next decade (that’s more than 2 cents for every neuron in the body’s most complex organ). Driving these investments is the sense that researchers are on the verge of making leaps in understanding the brain — advances that could eventually lead to better treatments for mental disorders.

An article in the New York Times looks at the effort to produce a "wiring diagram of the brain" which is part of the Human Connectome Project which is one of a number of ambitious brain research projects which are mapping an area, as mysterious as the depths of the ocean and as dimly visible as the peripheral vision of the Hubble telescope, and yet sandwiched between all of our ears.

President Obama announced a $100 million fund to push forward brain research which will launch in 2014.

There is also The Human Brain Project which was featured in an article in Nature in November. The HBP will be funded to the tune of a billion Euros over the next decade.

What is driving research forward at the present are huge leaps forward in technological ability from "functional MRI" which allows for observation of live brain processes to the ability to rapidly sequence DNA and turn individual genes on and off.

“There is an explosion of new techniques,” said Dr. R. Clay Reid, a senior investigator at the Allen Institute, who recently moved there from Harvard Medical School. “And the end isn’t really in sight,” said Dr. Reid, who is taking advantage of just about every new technology imaginable in his quest to decipher the part of the mouse brain devoted to vision.

Exciting! Here is a first person account of what it is like to participate as a subject in the project

http://www.nature.com/news/neuroscience-new-angles-on-the-brain-1.14104

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/07/science/a-search-for-self-in-a-brain-scan.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/07/science/the-brain-in-exquisite-detail.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/02/science/obama-to-unveil-initiative-to-map-the-human-brain.html

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