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View Diary: President Obama's remarks on the Brain Initiative and American innovation (14 comments)

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  •  If anyone cares about the flip side (1+ / 0-)
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    Mr Robert

    theres sig concern this will be a sexy black hole that sucks scarce funding out of the rest of the neuroscience/neurobiology field.
    The goal is laudable, but how to get from here to there is much less (much much less) straightforward than the Human Genome Project this is always compared to (except when its being compared to the moon program.) If you wonder how impt neurosci research is, consider there will be tens of millions of Baby Boomers with Alzheimers and other severe dementias just around the bend. And shit we can do about it.
    Oh yes, and one more thing. The Europeans started a program last year to do much the same thing.

    •  There's a Brain Gap! (0+ / 0-)

      That's just too funny!!    What if the Europeans stick their own flag in the brain before we can stick our flag in the brain?

      Maybe, the last guy who finishes the last step can say this,
      "One small thought for man, one giant idea for mankind!!"

      Seriously, maybe a cooperative effort is possible.

      Or, perhaps this is a great opportunity, because duplicating research is an important step in validating it.

      I'm cautiously optimistic.   One of the core problems in her illness, is a part of the brain that doesn't light up, under circumstances where a healthy person's brain will light up.  If they can figure out why that's happening, some of her worst symptoms could be relieved.

    •  Regarding alzheimer's (0+ / 0-)

      They seem to be making some progress..    Although, what works for mice, doesn't always work for men.  I'm keeping my finger's crossed.  

      •  One of the most important insights (0+ / 0-)

        will be understanding how the structure of the brain in different organisms are different and more importantly why have certain segments of the brain evolved in the way that they have.  Mapping connections is just one aspect of studying brain evolution and yes, it is evolution and only evolution that shapes brain organization.

    •  The Europeans (1+ / 0-)
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      are leading the way where this kind of research is concerned and given the vagueness of the entire endeavor I think we should leave it to them at least for a few years.

      This is going to be a real sink hole for funds that could be spent on much high priority projects that would yield dividends much sooner than ObamaBrain.

      Here's a link to the website that describes what the Europeans are doing.

      The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

      by Mr Robert on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 01:18:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Rec because I concur 100 % and for 'ObamaBrain' (1+ / 0-)
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        Mr Robert
      •  Really? (1+ / 0-)
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        Mr Robert

        "This is going to be a real sink hole for funds that could be spent on much high priority projects that would yield dividends much sooner"

        This expenditure is a drop in the bucket compared to the costs of just paying for one day of DOD expenditures on fuel.  So the talk of "sink holes" is a little over the top and short sighted, when one considers that a better understanding of the human brain and its construction is likely to be far more reaching in its consequence over the long run than say an other adventure in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, etc.

        Secondly, what much "higher priority projects" are you talking about?  

        Its time that biotech be placed on the same funding level as say trips to Mars, which are far less likely to be transformative or pay for themselves in the near term.  

        As a Zoologist, I would be inclined to agree that there probably are "higher priority" projects likely to lead to greater pay off, such as understanding the biological implications of global warming which is now plowing into world biodiversity like a runaway train hitting a station.  However, that doesn't mean that a few hundred millions of dollars spent on brain research is not a good idea or a very high priority, especially when one considers, as the President correctly noted, the potential spin-offs in terms of non-biological and computer technology as well.

        Yes, we have fallen behind to the extent that either we can watch the Europeans lead at the cutting edge or get back into the ball game.

        •  We're pretty much in agreement (0+ / 0-)

          I certainly agree that a lot more money needs to go to biotech as compared to what some call "defense". I'm just saying that this particular project is nebulous at best and I think it's just a little early to put money into it for that reason.

          I'd much rather the money go into a lot of smaller projects. Or, for that matter, use the money to restore funding to scientific missions that are being hit by the sequester.

          When JFK proposed to send men to the moon I was thrilled, but ObamaBrain is so unfocused that I think the money will be wasted and I don't want to see that happen.

          So how would you spend the money?

          Frankly, I think the President should be listening to people like you instead of throwing money at something that is pretty unlikely to result in very much of benefit.

          FYI, I've been interested in brain research and brain simulation since the 1960s when I read Frank Rosenblatt's papers on Perceptrons so I'm not exactly new to this stuff.

          As of this moment, I think the Europeans are embarking on a project that is unlikely to pay off for several decades and I just don't want to see this country do the same thing.

          Once again, as I said at the top, I think we are pretty much in agreement.

          The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

          by Mr Robert on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 10:52:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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