Federal Brain Science Project Aims To Restore Soldiers’ Memory
By Jon Hamilton/NPR
When President Obama announced his plan to explore the mysteries of the human brain seven months ago, it was long on ambition and short on details.
Now some of the details are being sketched in.
The BRAIN Initiative will include efforts to restore lost memories in war veterans, create tools that let scientists study individual brain circuits and map the nervous system of the fruit fly.
The Defense Advanced Projects Agency, or DARPA, which has committed more than $50 million to the effort, offered the clearest plan. The agency wants to focus on treatments for the sort of brain disorders affecting soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Dr. Geoffrey Ling, deputy director of DARPA. “That is our constituency,” Ling said at a news conference at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego.
A colored 3-D MRI scan of the brain’s white matter pathways traces connections between cells in the cerebrum and the brainstem.
So DARPA will be working on problems including PTSD and traumatic brain injuries, Ling says. In particular, the agency wants to help the soldier who has “a terribly damaged brain and has lost a significant amount of declarative memory,” Ling said. “We would like to restore that memory.”
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