Brain Activity Map Creates Buzz, But Funding Still Needed

Mar 12, 2013

Brain researcher John Donoghue
Credit Brown University

Scientists in Rhode Island are waiting for word from the federal government about whether or not it will fund a huge, multi-year effort to map the brain’s activity. But, as the head of the Institute for Brain Science at Brown University says, funding or no funding, even the buzz about brain science is beneficial.

Brain scientist John Donoghue also heads research at the VA that’s finding new ways to help the disabled regain some function. In a new perspective in Science Magazine, Donoghue and the project's other proponents explain that the Brain Activity Map could help advance that research. They also lay out why scientists want a better picture of how large areas of the brain interact in real time. Donoghue says this project –which has generated enthusiasm among scientists and the public alike –hasn’t been funded yet. But money or no money, at least there’s some buzz.

“One thing that it has done, if nothing happens, if the government elects to do nothing, it’s certainly precipitated a lot of discussion about how we can truly understand the brain,” said Donoghue.

Some have compared the Brain Activity Map project’s scope and ambition to the Human Genome Project, which not only advanced our understanding of genetics but spawned new industries. Donoghue says Rhode Island researchers could play a strong role in the effort.