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BRAIN Initiative poised to help scientists understand the brain

There are a lot of conditions that affect the brain. From autism to schizophrenia, these mental conditions all affect people in different ways, sometimes with debilitating results. But despite our knowledge of their existence, there is still so much about these disorders and diseases that we do not know. Scientists are often left asking one important question: where do they come from and how do they develop?

The main reason scientists are unable to answer this question is because they do not completely know how the brain works. Unlocking this secret, some believe, will not only answer this question but a number of others as well such as: why do some people develop mental conditions and others do not?

President Obama's BRAIN Initiative, a federally funded program that was launched last year, hopes to give researchers the funding they need to answer these questions and understand the brain better. With the help of four agencies -- the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institute of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency -- more than $110 million was committed just in 2014, with more expected over the course of the 12-year initiative.

A number of projects have already been announced including several that will not only show how brain cells and circuits work but will also highlight when they are not working as well. This is an integral part in understanding brain disorders. With this knowledge, scientists may finally have what they need in order to begin work on better treatments or even cures in the decades to come.

Source: The National Institutes of Health, "NIH awards initial $46 million for BRAIN Initiative research," Sept. 30, 2014

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