Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Brain Mapping - A new initiative

President Obama announced a brain-mapping initiative which will require heavy use of cutting-edge and yet-to-be invented data processing and imaging technologies. The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative could help scientists unlock the secrets to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, strokes and even human cognition. More than $100 million will be invested in the initiative which will include National Institutes of Health, DARPA, National Science Foundation, outside academics and private companies. The director of National Institutes of Health said that this initiative might eventually require the handling of yottabytes of data which is equal to a billion petabytes and collection of data could stretch the limits of modern information science. The director Francis Collins said "There have been some conversations about whether the amount of data, if you are going to collect data from tens of thousands of neurons in real time, can you process and store it. This is generally in the direction of the capability where things are headed". DARPA's project Detection and Computational Analysis of Psychological Signals will be funded under BRAIN. This project also requires analysis of very large data sets. The White House reported that DARPA will develop a new set of tools to capture and process dynamic neural and synaptic activities. Not only will BRAIN require new computer technologies merely to perform the necessary research, but the results of the research could also be used to develop new information technologies.

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