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NIH director welcomes BRAIN initiative

Director of the National Institutes of Health Francis Collins, introduces President Barack Obama before his speech on the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative on April 2, 2013.

Literature and art help us explore the mysteries of the human mind. But understanding the minute circuitries of the human brain takes science, technology, and according to the Obama Administration, quite a bit of federal money.

This week the president unveiled his $100 million BRAIN initative -- short for Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies. Modeled after the Human Genome Project, in which the goverment worked with science foundations and private enterprises to map human DNA, BRAIN funding is aimed at understanding, treating and eliminating diseases such as Alzheimer's.

"If you look at the history of success of large scientific enterprises, unless there is a central focus on the basic science, which government is really the best and most effective supporter of, then the project isnt really going to get off the ground," says Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, which will disburse the research money.

Dr. Collins has high hopes for the initiative, which include memory enhancement and brain-computer interfacing "for people who have impairments, like a quadroplegic, where you want to be able to give them the ability to move an extremity just by thinking about it," he says.

To hear more about the experimental technology that Dr. Collins thinks may get us there, click on the audio player above.

About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio

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