UC San Diego Researcher Would Help Lead Obama’s Brain Activity Map Project

By | February 20, 2013

20130219-212822.jpgThe announcement on Monday that President Barack Obama hopes to launch a 10-year initiative to map the human brain caught many by surprise. That includesRalph Greenspan, the associate director of the Kavli Institute at UC San Diego, who would be one of the leaders of the project.

“I fell off my chair,” he said. “I didn’t know it had been decided yet. We knew that it was under discussion, and we knew that there was some interest, but we really didn’t know that they had decided it was something really worthwhile.”Ralph Greenspan, the associate director of the Kavli Institute at UC San Diego.

UC San Diego

Ralph Greenspan, the associate director of the Kavli Institute at UC San Diego.

The initiative is being called the Brain Activity Map project, and is likened to the Human Genome Project, but for brains instead of genetics.

Obama hopes to unveil it as early as March, and is expected to include it in his budget proposal, according to The New York Times. It is not clear where exactly the funding would come from, although the National Institutes of Health would be one likely source.

Greenspan said the idea started during a conference for neuroscientists and nanoscientists put on by the Kavli Foundation a year and a half ago.

“After two days of sort of talking at each other, at the end of the second day, this one guest who was a veteran of the Human Genome Project got up and said, ‘well I’ve heard you all say what you can do, but I haven’t heard any of you say what you really want to do, that you don’t yet see how to do,'” he said. “One of the neuroscientists perked up and said, ‘I want to be able to record from every nerve cell in the brain at the same time. So that got a group of about six of us all fired up.”

Those six scientists, including Greenspan, wrote an article in June that proposed new approaches for mapping the brain.

Greenspan said the project would help answer lots of questions about how the brain works, “from things as simple as how you move your finger to things as complicated as understanding economics.”

The project would also help understand what has gone wrong in brains of people with psychiatric diseases and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Greenspan said another hope is that the technology developed to undertake the project would boost the economy.

“Because the technologies that are going to be needed to see all of that are going to require some fancy, science fictiony new kinds of detectors, there will be technological spinoffs from this as well,” he said. “That will have economic benefits and will probably be useful in realms that have nothing to do with the brain or with living things.”

http://www.kpbs.org/news/2013/feb/19/uc-san-diego-researcher-would-help-lead-obamas-bra/

When I wrote the previous comment about reprogramming criminals I actually had no idea the US was planning a billion dollar brain mapping project. Great start in the right direction. As with any advancement, it will be important to use what we learn wisely. What may really happen is that the secret programming of human behavior takes a leap forward. What I’d like to see is a technology in the hands of everyone to reprogram their own behaviors. Want to quit smoking? Hook up to the machine, let it figure out what connections exist between smoking and your reward centers, then run the program to reset those connections. Wake up the next morning and you are completely repulsed by cigarettes. I’m sure you can see the potential abuses of such power, however, especially if programming could be done subliminally with flashing lights.

5 thoughts on “UC San Diego Researcher Would Help Lead Obama’s Brain Activity Map Project

  1. Invisible Mikey

    It’s part of Obama’s pledge to “study the causes of violence”, and I think it’s a good idea too. We have the tools for the mapping, but there’s much that hasn’t been studied experimentally.

    1. Fred Killer

      You don’t have to study the brain to understand the cause of violence.

      We’re still basically animals and when we feel threatened, we respond in various ways.

      Any attempt to quash or limilt our natural survival instincts, for example with drugs, will only dumb us down even further into mental retardation.

      This study will no doubt be the excuse for medicating the entire population with even more SSRI type receptor inhibitors.

      Anything Obama says or does should be taken in the context of the Marxist Communist takeover of The formerly United States.

      He is not autonomous. He has no real power. No President has. They work for whoever funds them like any other employee.

      He’s not even a real person in the normal sense of the word, so compromised are any values that he may once have had.

      Never trust anything he says and assume the exact opposite to be his intention.

      1. Invisible Mikey

        Yes, the fight or flee (or freeze) stress response in mammals is well-known, however we do not know anything specific about how long it takes for adrenaline to hit the brain, the levels of energy that produces, or how to predict trigger mechanisms in individuals.

        That is, except for you, Fred. We know all it takes to trigger you is the word “Obama” 😉

  2. Fred Killer

    “That will have economic benefits and will probably be useful in realms that have nothing to do with the brain or with living things.”

    You mean like mind control, war and dead things?

  3. j carlin

    i don’t think obama understands economics
    the principles are
    1 pay your bills
    2 do your work
    it doesn’t take an einstein to do that

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