WASHINGTON D.C. (WUSA9) -- President Barack Obama announced a new initiative to map the human brain by advancing innovative brain technology, Tuesday, April 2, 2013.
The $100 million brain initiative will be led by three major health organizations, including the National Institutes of Health, NIH.
President Obama says,"We still haven't unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears."
WUSA9's Derek McGinty interviewed Dr. Henry J. Kaminski, M.D., Professor and Chairman of Neurology at George Washington University, about the importance of this new research:
Derek: What is we could learn from mapping the brain and if it's so great, why hasn't it been done already?
Dr. Kaminski: Let me take this back a little bit. I think we all know the brain is made up of wires but what this initiative starts to do is look at its activities. So you can think about the wires connected to a lamp with a dimmer switch and this is across a billion neurons, nerve cells in the brain and we are trying to figure out the level of activity of each of those neurons. Why hasn't it been done before? Part of this initiative is to first develop the technologies to even be able to start mapping the brain.
Derek: So this goes way beyond beyond the idea that the right lobe does this or this part of the brain does this? This is far more in depth?
Dr. Kaminski: Absolutely. We are looking at the single neuron level within a human being.
Derek: In your own practice, as a neurologist, give me an idea of how this would help you do your job better?
Dr. Kaminski: Well, it's critically important to understand how the nervous system works. There is no question about that. Some diseases like Alzheimer's diseases and epilepsy and autism, the basis of that is a change in activity. Now that may be some cells went wrong, some genes went wrong or it could be the whole system together. So this brain map is going to start to tell us how systems go right and how they go wrong.
To see the rest of Derek McGinty's interview, click the video player at the top of the page.