Better Understanding of Human Brain Supports National Security
By Dialogo May 09, 2013
On April 2, at a White House event, U.S. President Barack Obama unveiled a bold new research initiative designed to revolutionize the understanding of the human brain. As part of this initiative, DARPA intends to invest roughly $50 million in 2014 with the goal of understanding the dynamic functions of the brain and demonstrating breakthrough applications based on these insights.
“The President’s initiative reinforces the significance of understanding how the brain records, processes, uses, stores and retrieves vast quantities of information,” explained DARPA Director, Arati Prabhakar. “This kind of knowledge of brain function could inspire the design of a new generation of information processing systems; lead to insights into brain injury and recovery mechanisms; and enable new diagnostics, therapies and devices to repair traumatic injury.”
DARPA plans to explore two key areas to elicit further understanding of the brain. New tools are needed to measure and analyze electrical signals and the biomolecular dynamics underpinning brain function. Researchers will also explore, abstract and model the vast spectrum of brain functions by examining its incredible complexity.
Like all potentially powerful new technologies, this research can lead to societal questions about its use. DARPA plans to engage a broad set of experts to explore these issues.
DARPA’s planned investment includes new programs to address the areas outlined and ongoing efforts designed to advance fundamental understanding of the brain’s dynamics to drive applications (Revolutionizing Prosthetics, Restorative Encoding Memory Integration Neural Device, Reorganization and Plasticity to Accelerate Injury Recovery, Enabling Stress Resistance), manufacture sensing systems for neuroscience applications (Reliable Neutral Interface Technology, Blast Gauge), and analyze large data sets (Detection and Computational Analysis of Psychological Signals).