Brain-mapping Projects to Collaborate, Share Data

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Two ambitious and controversial government-backed initiatives that aim to decode the brain are poised to join forces.

Brain mapping projects to collaborate

Officials from the United States’ $1-billion BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, also referred to as the Brain Activity Map Project) and the European Union’s $1.3-billion Human Brain Project (HBP) have announced they will launch a collaboration later this year.

Although the details have yet to be worked out, according to Kathy Hudson, the National Institutes of Health deputy director for science, outreach and policy, the ultimate goal is to ensure that the two research programs do as much as they can without duplicating efforts.

The collaboration will help both programs: the BRAIN Initiative is creating tools for imaging and controlling brain activity, and needs a system to integrate all the data collected, while the HBP is creating a system — a computational model of the brain — and needs brain data to design its model.

The coordination between the two brain initiatives will begin with a workshop later this year where they will discuss the extent to which they want to work together. Issues such as the ethics of brain mapping and policies for data sharing are also likely to surface.

Source: Nature News

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Jenny Jessen is Principal at Highlight Health Media, which publishes Highlight HEALTH. She is also a senior writer at Highlight HEALTH.