The BRAIN Initiative

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About The BRAIN Initiative

The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative (BRAIN Initiative) is a broad, collaborative research initiative to advance the science and technologies needed to unlock the mysteries of the human brain. It's goal: accelerate the development and application of new technologies that will enable researchers to produce dynamic pictures of the brain that show how individual brain cells and complex neural circuits interact at the speed of thought. These technologies will open new doors to explore how the brain records, processes, uses, stores and retrieves vast quantities of information, and shed light on the complex links between brain function and behavior. Learn more

The Brain Activity Map Timeline


Composed of federal and non-federal members and affiliates, the BRAIN Initiative Alliance mission is to coordinate and facilitate communications from its members related to the BRAIN Initiative. The Alliance seeks to inform and engage the public and the scientific community about scientific successes emerging from the BRAIN Initiative, and opportunities for further discovery. Visit the website for further information and resources.


About The Brain Activity Map (BAM) Project

BRAIN Initiative partners meeting President Obama before the AnnouncementThe BRAIN Initiative partners meeting President Obama before the Announcement, April 2013 (Credit: The White House)

In 2011, 13 neuroscientists and 14 nanoscientists met at the Kavli Royal Society International Centre outside London for a special symposium entitled, “Opportunities at the Interface of Neuroscience and Nanoscience.” During this meeting, the idea of mapping the functioning brain was discussed—a concept that has been described by some as “the Holy Grail” of neuroscience.

Scientific discussions continued over the course of almost a dozen formal and informal meetings, scores of teleconferences, a number of Kavli Futures Symposia and published science papers. Eighteen months later, the Brain Activity Map Project proposal would prove important to the scientific thinking behind the BRAIN Initiative, as well as a major catalyst for its launching. Learn more

Selected News Stories

Global collaboration among brain researchers will accelerate progress toward understanding and treating the brain.

Nations around the world are making unprecedented investments in brain research. How will each one leave its mark—and what could they achieve together?

A database of brain cells, and the new software platform that supports it, may finally reveal the cells’ identities—and supply scientists with a parts list for the brain. Christof Koch and Chinh Dang from the Allen Institute for Brain Science and Kenneth Harris from University College London explain.

Top American neuroscientists call for the next step in the BRAIN Initiative: a national network of neurotechnology centers.

How should the BRAIN Initiative evolve to unite and synergize the hundreds of individual laboratories it currently funds? Six researchers now propose a national network of neurotechnology centers, or “brain observatories.” Paul Alivisatos, Miyoung Chun, Michael Roukes and Rafael Yuste — four of the paper’s authors — answer your questions about this new idea and how it might affect the future of neuroscience.