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.
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. - 
Listen To The Story
Marketplace

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.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.

Follow David Brancaccio at @DavidBrancaccio