UC San Diego creates Center for Brain Activity Mapping

Center brings together many disciplines to respond to President Obama’s “grand challenge.”

(From left) Nick Spitzer, Ralph Greenspan and Terry Sejnowski.

Responding to President Barack Obama’s “grand challenge” to chart the function of the human brain in unprecedented detail, UC San Diego has established the Center for Brain Activity Mapping (CBAM). The new center, under the aegis of the interdisciplinary Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind at UC San Diego, will tackle the technological and biological challenge of developing a new generation of tools to enable recording of neuronal activity throughout the brain. It will also conduct brain-mapping experiments and analyze the collected data.

Ralph Greenspan – one of the original architects of a visionary proposal that eventually led to the national BRAIN Initiative launched by President Obama in April – has been named CBAM’s founding director.

UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla, who attended Obama’s unveiling of the BRAIN Initiative, said: “I am pleased to announce the launch of the Center for Brain Activity Mapping. This new center will require the type of in-depth and impactful research that we are so good at producing at UC San Diego. We have strengths here on our campus and the Torrey Pines Mesa, both in breadth of talent and in the scientific openness to collaborate across disciplines, that few others can offer the project.”

Greenspan, who also serves as associate director of the Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind at UC San Diego, said CBAM will focus on developing new technologies necessary for global brain-mapping at the resolution level of single cells and the timescale of a millisecond, participate in brain mapping experiments, and develop the necessary support mechanisms for handling and analyzing the enormous datasets that such efforts will produce.

Brain-mapping discoveries made by CBAM may shed light on such brain disorders as autism, traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer’s – and could potentially point the way to new treatments, Greenspan said. The technologies developed and advances in understanding brain networks will also likely have industrial applications outside of medicine, he said.

The new center will bring together researchers from neuroscience (including cognitive science, psychology, neurology and psychiatry), engineering, nanoscience, radiology, chemistry, physics, computer science and mathematics.

“An essential component of the center will be its close relationships with other San Diego research institutions and with industrial partners in the region’s high-tech and biotech clusters,” said Nick Spitzer, distinguished professor of neurobiology and director of the Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind at UC San Diego.

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Related link:
UC researchers part of Obama initiative to map the brain

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