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What Does Mapping The Brain Actually Mean?

Evening Edition

Aired 7/9/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.

What Does Mapping The Brain Actually Mean?

GUEST:

Ralph Greenspan, Ph.D., director of UC San Diego's Center for Brain Activity Mapping and associate director of the Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind.

Transcript

In June, the California Legislature allocated $2 million for a basic science research project called the California Blueprint for Research to Advance Innovations in Neuroscience, or Cal-BRAIN.

Considering that the state is just emerging from years of deep budget cuts, the new funding is remarkable both for what it says about our economic recovery and the potential of the project.

The funds are meant to complement the huge federal Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative announced by President Obama last year.

UC San Diego scientist Ralph Greenspan has been pivotal in generating both projects. He's director of the Center for Brain Mapping Activity and associate director of the Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind.

Greenspan said from giving us the ability to understand what the brain does and how it does it, to understanding how learning and memory occurs and how we experience emotions, the project will enable scientists to see more clearly what goes on in the brain.

“For psychiatric disease, it will be our first glimpse into what is truly going wrong with those diseases... for diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, it will give you the first possible hint that something is going wrong,” Greenspan said.

Brain mapping involves gathering real-time images and data based on the dynamic activity of the brain. By subjecting an individual to a variety of conditions while monitoring the brain activity, neuroscientists can determine how different regions of the brain function.

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