National Science Foundation BRAIN Workshop Report e-Published on IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Report Outlines Expert Panel’s Conclusion That Three Grand Challenges Must Be Met In Order to Map the Human Brain, Which is the Goal of the Obama Administration’s BRAIN Initiative
The IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS) today announced the publication of “Grand Challenges in Mapping the Human Brain: NSF Workshop Report,” which summarizes the outcomes of the National Science Foundation Workshop on Mapping and Engineering the Brain, held in Arlington, Virginia on August 13 and 14, 2013. The purpose of the Workshop was to convene the brightest minds in neuroscience, engineering, and other related fields, to lay the groundwork necessary to meet President Obama’s “Grand Challenge” – a broad new research initiative that is designed to revolutionize our understanding of the human brain, aptly known as the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative.
As is explained in the peer-reviewed report, which is today e-published in its entirety on IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, an EMBS publication, thirty-three Workshop participants from academic institutions around the country met over the course of two days for intense discussions on the best way to accomplish what once seemed impossible: to successfully map the entire human brain. Attendees participated in one of four breakout sessions: spatiotemporal brain mapping, multiscale neuroimaging of brain activation and function, engineering challenges in brain mapping and data analysis, and neurotechnologies for maintaining and augmenting the human brain.
At the end of the Workshop, all participants identified and agreed upon three grand challenges that must be met in order to successfully map the living human brain: high spatiotemporal resolution neuroimaging, perturbation-based neuroimaging, and neuroimaging in naturalistic environments. The report highlights that each of these grand challenges requires groundbreaking discoveries, enabling technologies, appropriate knowledge transfer, and multi- and trans-disciplinary education and training for success.
Starting with $100 million in FY 2014 from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the BRAIN Initiative aims to accelerate the development and application of new technologies that will provide deeper understanding of how the brain records, processes, uses, stores, and retrieves vast quantities of information, and shed light on the complex links between brain function and behavior.
Workshop Chair and lead author of the report, Dr. Bin He remarked, “This is a truly exciting time in the fields of neuroscience and neuroengineering, as we embark on what promises to be an era of inspiring discovery and understanding of how the living human brain works. We know that through innovative neurotechnology, we can map the brain and unlock some of its most confounding mysteries – which, one day, we expect will help us to treat, cure, and even prevent disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, depression, and traumatic brain injury.” Dr. He, who is also a past president of EMBS, an IEEE Fellow, and a professor of biomedical engineering and director of the Institute for Engineering in Medicine at the University of Minnesota, continued, “We hope this report, which represents the hard work of a group of experts from all around the country, would play a role in assisting NSF and the scientific community to identify major challenges we are facing in order to accomplish the goal of BRAIN Initiative.”