To Find Out How the Brain Works, the Government Readies $3 Billion

The federal government is preparing to put $3 billion dollars into researching the human brain, which over the last decade has become the final frontier of terrestrial science. 

What's the Latest Development?

The federal government is preparing to invest up to $3 billion dollars to researching the structure and function of the human brain, which over the last decade has become the final frontier of terrestrial science. "The Brain Activity Map, as this project seems likely to be called, will study how the brain is wired up at all levels, from the connections between individual nerve cells to the neuronal superhighways between its various lobes and ganglia." To gain real knowledge of mental processes and diseases, the brain must be understood on all levels, from connections between individual nerve cells to how different nerve centers interact. 

What's the Big Idea?

Our current understanding of mental disorders suffers from a lack of knowledge about the brain's biological processes. Mental disorders such as schizophrenia and clinical depression are thought to leave no clear anatomical trace while brain disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s clearly do. "But this is surely a false distinction; it is merely that the anatomical traces of psychiatric disorders have not yet been found—perhaps because they are actually caused by misconnections, known as 'connectopathies' in the jargon, that current techniques are not clever enough to recognize."

Photo credit:

Read it at the Economist

Related Articles

Scientists discover what caused the worst mass extinction ever

How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.

Credit: Ron Miller
Surprising Science

While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.

Keep reading Show less

Why we're so self-critical of ourselves after meeting someone new

A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.

New acquaintances probably like you more than you think. (Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)
Surprising Science

We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.

Keep reading Show less

NASA launches ICESat-2 into orbit to track ice changes in Antarctica and Greenland

Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.

Firing three pairs of laser beams 10,000 times per second, the ICESat-2 satellite will measure how long it takes for faint reflections to bounce back from ground and sea ice, allowing scientists to measure the thickness, elevation and extent of global ice

Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).

Keep reading Show less