16 April, 2013

A To Z Challenge: Neuroscience And New Research Initiatives

Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system. It includes neurobiology (anatomy, physiology, and pathology of the nervous system), neurophysiology (physiology only), and cognitive neuroscience (biological sources of mental occurrences in the brain). Particular emphasis is usually put on the brain in neuroscience.

Now, I'm not trying to overly politicize my A to Z Challenge theme here, but I do think it deserves to be mentioned that President Barack Obama has recently announced he wants $100 million dollars to be spent on neuroscience, and especially brain mapping, the process of building a model of the neurons within the brain.

Critics state there is no actual clear and defined goal of the "Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnology" or BRAIN project--even if it does put more resources into neuroscience--unlike the Human Genome Project. The objective can be interpreted as ambiguous: Which areas should be mapped first? How extensive should the mapping be? Essentially, the human brain is complicated, and there are hundreds of different ways one could go about "mapping" its structure.

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Sources:
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/neuroscience
http://www.merriam-webster.com/medlineplus/neuroscience
http://www.unp.uab.edu/program-information-/faq/237-what-is-neuroscience.html
http://www.neuroscience.manchester.ac.uk/research/whatis/
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/02/science/obama-to-unveil-initiative-to-map-the-human-brain.html?_r=0
http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/sciencefair/2013/04/02/obama-brain-initiative/2046935/
http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/brain-mapping1.htm

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Do you think the BRAIN project is a good idea? Do you think there should be more direction in the program or that the funds themselves will be sufficient to kickstart breakthroughs in the field?


-----The Golden Eagle

37 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Depending what we find, there could be numerous application. However, pouring that kind of money into research with no goal is a scary thing.

Fe said...

This research will probably go the way of the 'Green' initiatives. Ooh - politics, get out of my head!!!'

Fe said...

Alex, I've stolen your 'Also' and 'Update' Comments,for my site, I hope you don't mind?

Thanks

Deborah Walker said...

My brain hurts. Isn't all research good? An expansion of human knowledge with unexpected practical applications?

Or is it a case of the more we know, the more we don't know?

Brain=confused.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I think I'd rather see the money going to research on diseases such as MS and MD and ALS.

Elaine Smith said...

I think unlocking the brain has to be the most profound area of study as our sense of self - what we are and what we could could potentially be - as well as our physiology is governed by the brain.

Old Kitty said...

Well I think you never know what you will find when looking at the brain - and hopefully then some good will come out of this - even if it'll help medical science. So much illness and disorders are down to brain activity and our inability to truly understand what goes on up there! Everything costs money - and science - for the good of humanity and the earth - can't progress unfortunately without such investment.

Take care
x

Sandy said...

I think it's a good idea, I think the potential is huge and I think the possible headway that could be made with hideous diseases that involved the brain are worth it.

A-Z

Spacerguy said...

Mapping the entire brain will hopefully provide answers to so many questions hounding people who have debilitating, distressing illnesses. I hope Obama can see it through.

Susan Kane said...

Oh, definitely there needs to be more direction given. The 'shot-gun effect' of Federal Spending usually results in waste and funds mis-spent.

I sure hope there will be more over-sight with specific goals.

Cindy Dwyer said...

I find it fascinating that humans use some ridiculously small portion of our brains - like 10% or something. I think we could benefit from some serious funding to tap into that potential knowledge. I bet the brain harnesses some amazing powers to heal.

Banker Chick said...

I think it is an important area for study, but it is important to have clear goals.
Katie atBankerchick Scratchings

Jeff Hargett said...

They should probably start by mapping mine. Shouldn't take too long. :)

Pat Hatt said...

And they wonder why they are in debt? Idiots haha they should spend it with a direction, if it's nerve stuff, find a cure for things like MS. But oh no, that would take money away from the drug companies, can't have that.

Carol Kilgore said...

From an outsider's view, I'd say the project needs more definition and stages, with goals for each one. And if he's mentioned it solely for political reasons, shame on him. If we have the ability to begin, we should. With a plan.

Rusty Webb said...

I think govt funded research is a great idea... the problem is when people who don't understand science get to deem whether or not the endeavor is worthy. Pure research should be a much higher priority than it is now.

Deniz Bevan said...

I think it's a great idea! Learning about the brain is always interesting.

Mina Burrows said...

Personally, I'd be more interested in stem cells. Oh well. Wrong administration. *sigh*

Tyrean Martinson said...

This is a tough question. I think that research needs a direction, especially in our current economy and the indebtedness of our gov't. I think there are other areas which need to be researched, but I'm sure that mapping the brain could be incredibly useful.

mshatch said...

I think it's a great idea, but then I'm all for learning more about things and the brain is one area we actually know very little about. Just think about how knowing more about the brain might help people with mental illness.

Krista McLaughlin said...

I'm not sure it's a good idea. I think I'll just stick to our brains being a mystery. :)

Mark Means said...

I think there's a lot to be learned by mapping the brain...but, as others have said..I think they need a clear goal going in to justify that sort of expenditure.

Interesting post, though!

Carrie Butler said...

Speaking of brain-ish things, I've been reading about the endoscopic endonasal approach lately for one of my scenes. Interesting stuff!

Donna K. Weaver said...

The brain. Such a fascinating organ. With three kids who suffer from mental illness, it's curious that their treatments for the same thing are so different.

Lynda R Young said...

I touched on a little neuroscience at uni when I was studying psychology. Many long words in that field! ;)

Elise Fallson said...

I don't know enough about either project to say one or the other is more preferable. But either way, we do need to keep investing in the sciences and in research. It's our future.

Charles Gramlich said...

I think it is a good idea. the potential goods and bads that can come out of it should be considered, but we need to know about our brains to know about ourselves.

Mama J said...

I wouldn't even know where to begin. I'm no scientist and it all used to go over my head at school!

Talli Roland said...

I'm no expert, but I think anything that advances our knowledge is a good thing. Generally speaking!

C. Lee McKenzie said...

I'll have to think about this a bit. Right now I'm not supportive of the government intervening in much of anything. I'd rather see the private sector step up and fund this kind of research.

I have heard a lot about the Protein Folding Project underway and how it's being conducted. That project seems to hold a lot of promise re: unlocking even more secrets about the human species and its diseases than the Gnome Project. I'm not sure where the funding is coming from on this one, but I know NHGRI funded the Gnome research.

Maria Dunn said...

My daughter is also interested in Neuroscience. I have to say I am suspicious and cautious about the government getting involved in anything more. It has its tentacles of bureaucracy muddling up and complicating so much today. I sense that the private sector would be better suited to this especially now when the government is so overextended. Looks like this research has the potential to offer great possibilities. Thanks. God bless, Maria at Delight Directed Living

The Golden Eagle said...

Alex: It is a bit strange that they didn't outline more goals for that 100 million.

Fe: I know what you mean. Politics is easy to get sick of. :P

Deborah: It depends on what the money goes toward--if it sinks into a morass of different institutions and no one actually makes a real scientific breakthrough because they didn't have a goal, it could be wasted money.

Susan: They would be specific, at least.

Elaine: Agreed! It's one of the last places in the human body science has yet to fully understand.

Old Kitty: I think so, too. There has to be some money put in the system--and I'm inclined to think the government should contribute some of it.

Sandy: Yeah--there are a lot of crippling things that can affect the brain.

Spacerguy: I hope he can as well. It would be an achievement for his administration and the country if the funding produced some significant brain research.

Susan: Maybe some scientific institutions will step up to the plate in that regard--or at least, I'm hoping they will.

Cindy: It's a powerful organ.

Katie: I think so, too.

Jeff: LOL. Somehow I doubt that!

I could recommend some politicians/celebrities, on the other hand . . .

Pat: The drug companies are a depressingly powerful lobby.

Carol: I'm glad there's funding going toward science regardless of political motive--but I agree, there should be a game plan.

Rusty: Agreed! Some programs should definitely have goals; but a lot of useful technology comes out of non-targeted scientific experiments.

Deniz: It's an amazingly complex thing. :)

Mina: Stem cell research is really cool. I wish there was more of it as well.

Tyrean: It depends on what they find. But no one can predict that one . . .

Mshatch: Any knowledge could benefit those with mental illness.

Krista: Really? Though I guess there are some advantages to keeping the brain's operations secret--not being able to externally control a brain among them.

Mark: Thank you. :)

Carrie: That sounds like fascinating research. I can't help but think of the Egyptians--I believe they removed the brain through the nose when creating mummies.

Donna: The brain's a strange place!

Lynda: LOL. I haven't done a ton of research into neuroscience but whenever I watch programs about the field they throw a lot of terms around. Or at least I get the impression the scientists want to.

Elise: Most definitely!

Charles: They're the masterminds, after all.

Mama J: I get confused by science, too, sometimes! There are a lot of complex connections.

Talli: I think so, too. But with a vague goal and a lot of funding, as with the BRAIN project, it just seems like more direction could be useful.

Lee: I've heard of protein folding as well. The game-based sites are really interesting; a crowd can be a lot more efficient than scientists, it turns out!

Maria: Yeah, government has certainly been known to bog things down . . .

Paul Tobin said...

Not sure where I stand on this-will someone try and patent aspects as they have with the genome?

Karen Tamara said...

I'm all for brain research, although I won't be in the front of the line signing up to be a lab rat. There are so many disorders, diseases and under utilized parts of the brain that we need to get started on this research like yesterday...but I still think the program should be focused before pouring all that money into it.

Karen

Jagoda said...

I hadn't heard of the BRAIN project before which surprises me because I am super interested in the latest brain research. The human brain is fascinating and still mysterious. So yes, I support research on the brain. I do think specific goals are a good idea and the more is learned, the more researchers will be able to drill down.
Jagoda

The Golden Eagle said...

Paul: It wouldn't surprise me if they did, unfortunately.

Karen: Brain research has lagged, it's true. Scientists know how so much else works but some basic things about the brain are still being discovered.

Jagoda: Hopefully so! :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi GE .. I'm pleased - because new breakthroughs seem to come from collaborative get togethers ..

Cheers Hilary