Science Times: Global Brain Initiatives

The journal Neuron recently devoted a complete issue to perspectives on global neuroscience, following announcement of an “International Brain Initiative” to align aspects of the various national brain research projects around the world.1 Since the announcement of the United States Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative in April, 2013, the United States, Canada, European Union, Japan, China, Australia, and Korea have committed more than $7 billion to accelerate brain research over the next decade. These initiatives represent opportunities for neurosurgeons to partner with basic and cognitive scientists, in order to maximize the research opportunities provided by our unique access to the human brain.

The foundation of the United States BRAIN Initiative is described in the BRAIN 2025 report, which outlined seven of the highest priorities: (1) identify and provide experimental access to the different brain cell types to determine their roles in health and disease, (2) generate circuit diagrams that vary in resolution from synapses to the whole brain, (3) produce a dynamic picture of the functioning brain by developing and applying improved methods for large‐scale monitoring of neural activity, (4) link brain activity to behavior with precise interventional tools that change neural circuit dynamics, (5) produce conceptual foundations for understanding the biological basis of mental processes through development of new theoretical and data analysis tools, (6) develop innovative technologies to understand the human brain and treat its disorders and create and support integrated human brain research networks, and (7) Integrate new technological and conceptual approaches produced in Goals #1‐6 to discover how dynamic patterns of neural activity are transformed into cognition, emotion, perception, and action in health and disease.2 The BRAIN Initiative is a public–private partnership, currently supported by five federal agencies and over 20 private partners. A subset of these partners formed the BRAIN Initiative Alliance (http://www.braininitiative.org/) to serve as a central-access portal for information about the initiative.

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