My supervisor was talking about this last week – The proposed Human Brain Project. Kind of like the Human Genome Project, but instead of working out what all our genes do, we’re going to work out what brains do. We really don’t know. The brain is so mysterious, and scientists have only cracked the very tiny tip of the iceberg in terms of how the brain works, what the different cells do, and how neurological pathways interact with the body and behaviour.
This article in Nature / Scientific American also points out that a lot of money is going to be spent on this project. But hopefully, that money is going to be a good investment. The Human Genome Project certainly was. The Brain Activity Map is a similar project that has yet to get off its feet, although it is less concrete that the Human Brain Project at this stage.
However, the article also points out that “decoding” the human brain may not turn out to be as easy as decoding our DNA – not that that was easy, either, but they expect that the brain is just that more complex.
What do you guys think? Do you think it’s a little pessimistic, and that with enough funding we can really start to make major advances in the next decade in understanding how the brain works? Or do we need to have more realistic goals?
Check out the Human Brain Project website here: http://www.humanbrainproject.eu/