Research

Scientists describe brain activity map

John Donoghue, the Henry Merritt Wriston Professor of Neuroscience at Brown, is one of 11 authors of a new paper in the journal Science outlining the vision for a “Brain Activity Map.” In their brief essay, the scientists call for a large-scale research effort that “could put neuroscientists in a position to understand how the brain produces perception, action, memories, thoughts, and consciousness and be a major step toward a complete understanding of brain function and dysfunction.” Gaining such insights into both the healthy mind and psychiatric disease, they say, will require developing the tools to observe and interact with circuits of hundreds of thousands of neurons and methods to store and analyze the massive amount of resulting data. The researchers foresee an open international collaboration. “This proposal is meant to stimulate scientists and administrators; our role is merely to help catalyze action,” wrote the team including Donoghue, who directs the Brown Institute for Brain Science and is also a researcher at the Providence VA Medical Center.