President Obama today unveiled a major federal project to map out the human brain, discovering "how millions of brain cells interact," in the words of a White House scientist. Obama is directing $100 million toward the program, which has been compared to the Human Genome Project and could help fight Alzheimer's and epilepsy, the Hill reports. The National Institutes of Health will create a roadmap for the project, which will also involve the Defense Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation. Politico notes that the president joked that learning how the brain works "could explain all kinds of things that go on in Washington. We could prescribe something."
"The goal here is a whole new playing field, whole new ways of thinking," says a scientist. "We are really out to catalyze a paradigm shift." But it could be a year before scientists settle on the exact aims of the project, which will require input from technologies that aren't yet available, the New York Times reports. Obama is also ordering an investigation of the ethics involved in the initiative. The full project's official name: Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, or BRAIN.