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