Brain Activity Map Project Announced

On February 19, 2013

brainUnderstanding how the brain works is one of the greatest scientific challenges of our time. The New York Times announced yesterday the research initiative of U.S. gouvernment that aims to to create the most detailed map of the active human brain to date.

Called the Brain Activity Map Project, this is a collaborative research initiative projected to cost around $380 million per year for the next 10 years. Scientists hope to use this map in order to understand and cure degenerative brain diseases, but also find new ways to advance artificial intelligence.

Current methods of tracking brain activity are either inaccurate or invasive, so nanotechnology that would individually monitor brain cells could be the solution. While imaging technologies (like fMRI or MEG) can capture whole-brain activity patterns, these techniques lack single-cell specificity and temporal resolution to permit detection of neuronal firing patterns. By using new non-invasive nanotechnology methods of electrophysiology (for sensing and reporting the activity of single neurons) combined with neuroimaging and neuroanatomy, scientists engaged in this project hope to map activity of each of the approximately 100 billion neurons in the human brain. The New York Times also reports that Google, Microsoft and Qualcomm met with neuroscientists and nanoscientists in order to determine whether computing facilities existed to capture and analyze the amounts of data that would come from the project, and the conclusion was that such technology does exist.

A research article published in Neuron called “The Brain Activity Map Project and the Challenge of Functional Connectomics” discusses the need for developing new technologies in order to image every spike of every neuron.  The article also presented 13 questions in neuroscience for which emergent functional properties could be key. Among them, these were the ones that cached my attention (and would catch the attention of anyone interested in neuromarketing research):

  • What are the real-time, multiple, long-range interactions that underlie cognitive functions and behavior?
  • What are the true functional underpinnings of perception, recognition, emotion, understanding, consciousness, and subconscious processes?
  • What are the paths of information flow?
  • Do alternative pathways produce similar outputs?
  • When memories are transferred from one brain region to another over time, how do activity patterns change?
  • What design principles can be discerned in how the brain functions?

Technology developments and outcomes of this project will certainly help neuromarketers and researchers interested in the human decision-making process, so we say a big ‘Welcome’ to the Brain Activity Map Project!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Trackbacks & Pings

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

%d bloggers like this: