The BRAIN Initiative and its links to MSM Theme



The BRAIN Initiative and its links to MSM (Bill Lytton, Raj Vadigepalli leads)

BRAIN Inititative Report to NIH BRAIN 2025: A Scientific Vision (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Working Group Report to the Advisory Committee to the Director, NIH June 5, 2014)

[Draft whitepaper for the role of MSM in BRAIN initiative] (prior version in

External links

White House BRAIN Initiative:

NIH BRAIN Initiative:

NSF BRAIN Initiative:

DARPA BRAIN Initiative:

Notes from IMAG participants:


President Obama has indicated federal interest and support in a BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) to “unlock the mystery of the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears” (President's remarks on BRAIN initiative and American innovation). This initiative will involve a number of IMAG members including NIH, NSF, and DARPA. Much of the focus thus far has been on the novel imaging technologies that will be required to provide dynamic brain activity mapping. However, it is clear that detailed multiscale modeling will be essential in order to unlock this mystery, and that development of new MSM techniques will be 1 of the new technologies that will be needed. Modeling is, in fact, the essential key that will be needed as the data begins to fall into place.

The focus of this theme is to explain the critical role of MSM in enabling the success of the BRAIN initiative, and to explore answers to the question: “What could MSM do with data on every spike (or every PSP) in every neuron in a brain area?” The focus of the talks will be to understand how MSM can best contribute to this funding initiative. Therefore there will be no scientific presentations per se, but rather talks directed to the application of MSM as a set of new technologies that will be useful for BRAIN. Terry Sejnowski will be giving an address based on his experience as a member of the advisory board to NIH Director.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Terry J Sejnowski

  • Abstract: One of the major goals of the BRAIN Initiative is to integrate theory, modeling, statistics, and computation with experimentation. Rigorous theory, modeling and statistics are advancing our understanding of complex, nonlinear brain functions where human intuition fails. New kinds of data are accruing at increasing rates, crying for new methods of data analysis and interpretation. To enable progress in theory and data analysis, we must foster collaborations between experimentalists and scientists from statistics, physics, mathematics, engineering and computer science.

Other speakers will be from the 3 involved funding agencies: Greg Farber and Ned Talley (NIH), Bill Miller (NSF), Bill Casebeer(DARPA), as well as a representative from another agency with related interests: Susan Alexander (IARPA). We will follow with a general discussion.

In addition to the particular points about brain modeling, we will extend the discussion to encompass shared issues and problems that will allow this theme to be of general interest to the MSM community. These topics include: 1. Development of new cell imaging technologies. 2. how to handle the yottabytes of "Big Data" generated. 3. Verification of simulations. 4. Matching analysis of simulations with direct analysis of data. etc.

Perhaps the most up-to-date current information on the BRAIN project is in the Charlie Rose show from 7/14/13: [1] included Story Landis (NINDS), Tom Insel (NIMH), Bill Newsome and Cory Bargmann (chairs of the advisory committee), Eric Kandel as moderator. Another recent document is [2]. Another question that arises is the relation (if any) with the EU's Human Brain Project. One consideration is that the US project is focused on on development of new technologies, while HBP has proposed to utilize existing technologies for their analysis.


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