Multibillion-dollar map of human brain might not be worth it

Los Angeles Times:

The Obama administration is reportedly considering funding a multibillion-dollar effort to map the human brain. This so-called Brain Activity Map project is inspired by the success of the Human Genome Project in mapping the genetic code. The proposal was outlined in the journal Neuron last summer by a group of leading researchers, among them geneticist George Church of Harvard Medical School, one of the originators of the genome project. This is an endeavor with exciting potential, but we should think about the pros and the cons before proceeding.

The 10-year project’s main goals involve basic science: to learn more about perception, thinking and consciousness by recording “the patterns and sequences of neuronal firing” by every neuron in entire circuits and brain regions. These maps would not be static pictures of the anatomy of the brain. They would instead be like time-lapse photographs of cities that show how traffic pulsates and buildings light up and go dark as people move from place to place. In a brain activity map, the traffic and lights would be electrical and chemical signals, and the buildings and streets would be neurons and their connecting fibers.

Read the whole story: Los Angeles Times

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