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Home > Press > Brain Activity Mapping Project aims to understand the brain

Advances in nanoscience and nanotechnology are poised to develop the tools required for a greater understanding of the brain in the Brain Activity Mapping Project.
Credit: Hemera/Thinkstock
Advances in nanoscience and nanotechnology are poised to develop the tools required for a greater understanding of the brain in the Brain Activity Mapping Project.

Credit: Hemera/Thinkstock

Abstract:
The scientific tools are not yet available to build a comprehensive map of the activity in the most complicated 3 pounds of material in the world — the human brain, scientists say in a newly published article. It describes the technologies that could be applied and developed for the Brain Activity Mapping (BAM) Project, which aims to do for the brain what the Human Genome Project did for genetics.

Brain Activity Mapping Project aims to understand the brain

Washington, DC | Posted on April 3rd, 2013

Published in the journal ACS Nano, the article describes how BAM could bring new understanding of how the brain works and possibly lead to treatments of clinical depression, autism, schizophrenia, Parkinson's and other brain diseases.

Three American Chemical Society journal editors, A. Paul Alivisatos, Anne M. Andrews and Paul S. Weiss, combine with Sotiris Masmanidis, Axel Scherer, Rafael Yuste, and several prominent nanoscientists and neuroscientists to explain that the human brain has eluded the kind of detailed understanding that exists for the heart, lungs and other organs. The reason lies in the brain's complexity — with on the order of 80 billion neurons, 100 trillion synapses that interconnect those cells into networks and 100 neurotransmitters that carry signals across those synapses. Until now, scientists have been able to study the activities of only a handful of neurons at the same time — leaving gaps in knowledge as to how they interact to make thoughts and memories, or malfunction in brain diseases.

The article describes how advances in nanoscience and nanotechnology over the last decade are poised to develop the tools required for greater understanding of the brain at this important scale. Since the parts of the brain work at the nanoscale, such tools are ideally suited for probing the pieces, but must be put together to understand thought, perception, consciousness, and health and disease — which result from networking among thousands or hundreds of thousands of neurons. "We hope that the BAM Project will bring the last decade's national and international investments in science, technology, and people in nanoscience and nanotechnology to bear on important and challenging problems in brain science," the scientists and engineers say.

The authors acknowledge funding from the Kavli Foundation.

####

About American Chemical Society (ACS)
The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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Contacts:
Michael Bernstein

202-872-6042

Paul S. Weiss, Ph.D.
California NanoSystems Institute
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, Calif. 90095
Phone: 310-267-5993
Fax: 310-267-4918

or
Sotiris Masmanidis, Ph.D.
California NanoSystems Institute
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, Calif. 90095
Phone: 310-794-5625

or
Rafael Yuste, Ph.D.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Biological Sciences,
Columbia University
New York, N.Y. 10027
Phone: 212-854-2354
Fax: 212-865-8246

Copyright © American Chemical Society (ACS)

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