Stanford faculty members Mark Schnitzer, associate professor of applied physics and biology, and Michael Lin, assistant professor of pediatrics and bioengineering, were among the first round of BRAIN Initiative awardees announced on September 30. Their project is titled "Protein voltage sensors: kilohertz imaging of neural dynamics in behaving animals".Read More
Weighing in at 58 pages, the Interim Report of the BRAIN Working Group (online version, here) is a detailed document that identifies and discusses eight research areas that were determined by the working group (with help from expert consultants, aka additional neuroscientists) to be high priority areas for the 2014 fiscal year. So what are these high priority research areas? How closely do they hew to ongoing research areas long acknowledged as important by the neuroscience community? How much do they rely on recruiting non-neuroscientists to research teams? How clearly do these areas address the Presidential mandate of the BRAIN Initiative? Will these goals help us to elucidate the importance of the Initiative, both in our minds and in the minds of the general public?
What follows are my impressions of the critical points contained within each of the eight sections that make up the body of the Interim Report.Read More
As someone on the outside of the connectomics debate looking in, I thought I’d more or less figured out what everyone was talking about, and what the major arguments were. But as it turns out, a recent experience with someone who’s closer to the discussion taught me not to take my assumptions for granted, and got me thinking about why the debate might look the way it does now, and whether it ought to look differently.Read More
Much has been made recently of President Obama’s announcement of the 100 million dollar BRAIN initiative to…well, to do what exactly? Some scientists exude optimism about the project, perhaps because they’re simply heartened to hear there’s money on the table for research. Other scientists are highly critical, citing the initiative’s lack of focus. Will the BRAIN initiative mean big-government intervention in the process of science? Will it scavenge resources from other important scientific initiatives? Will it produce vast mounds of data that we do not yet have a coherent way of processing and analyzing? Maybe. It all depends on what the BRAIN initiative really is.Read More