Thoughts on the Value of President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative – by The BrainWare SAFARI Team

The BRAIN Initiative announced recently by President Barack Obama has underscored the importance of better understanding brain-behavior relationships and it holds potential for deeper knowledge of the mechanisms involved in the development of the cognitive skills involved in learning and thinking.

President Barack Obama this week announced that his 2014 budget proposal will contain $100 million in funding for a research initiative with the acronym BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies), a 10-year $3 billion initiative previewed in the President’s State of the Union Address.  The purpose of BRAIN is to develop technologies to expand our understanding of how brain cells (neurons) interact to produce thought and learning.

Here are some of our thoughts:

Betsy Hill, President & COO, BrainWare SAFARI:  The BRAIN initiative has been likened to the Human Genome mapping project, but there are some important differences.  The order of proteins in the human genome can be determined and will be the same the next time you look at it.  There is a basic sequence that applies to all of us.  The principle of neuroplasticity means that the organization of our brains – the neural networks that account for learning and thought – are unique and constantly changing.  Our brains literally construct themselves.  In fact, the creation and strengthening of neural networks is the definition of learning.  It is vital that we learn more about how the brain processes, uses, stores, and retrieves such enormous quantities of information.

Roger Stark, CEO, BrainWare SAFARI:  A key to technological exploration of brain-behavior relationships will likely be the use of tools and techniques that have already been developed to impact brain function and behaviors, such as attention, working memory, visual-spatial processing, auditory processing and the integration of cognitive functions.  BrainWare SAFARI cognitive skills development software is just such a tool and has been shown in research and clinical practice to develop brain processes that enable us to take in, store, retrieve and manipulate information, the very processes the BRAIN initiative is designed to explore.  The BRAIN initiative could help explain in a much more detailed way than is currently available to exactly how key cognitive processes involved in learning and memory are developed and modified, leading to even better approaches.

Dr. Sara Sawtelle, Director of Scientific Affairs, BrainWare SAFARI:  We know that the brain develops in interaction with our environment.  BrainWare Safari helps the brain interact with the environment (in this case a software program, in a video-game format) in a way that develops cognitive processes critical for learning and thinking.  This could be a valuable tool in helping researchers working in the BRAIN initiative to examine how the brain develops and uses these key processes.  We look forward to collaborating with researchers on this exciting initiative with so much promise for our entire society.

What are your thoughts about the President’s BRAIN initiative?


3 Responses to Thoughts on the Value of President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative – by The BrainWare SAFARI Team

  1. W. R. Klemm says:

    This is a boondoggle in the making.The research will have little direct effect on education and will waste a lot of research money.
    There is so much neuroscience we already know that would be invaluable for education, but we don’t implement it. For example, just the information in my two memory books would make a world of difference.

    Bill Klemm, D.V.M., Ph.D.
    Memory Power 101 (ISBN: 9781616086121)
    Better Grades, Less Effort (ISBN 9781452462172)

  2. I applaud the President’s Brain Initiative!!!!
    Our Schools are failing, our kids are bored and unchallenged. Those with diagnosed disabilities and students of diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds are languishing in our system, as are those who are gifted. Our prisons and streets are full of those who ran from non differentiated, outdated and incomprehensible content and mindless state tests in schools to drugs, gangs and the streets. We have a crisis in our nation and the brain-based research would be a call for us to educate our students for the world that they are going to live in in this 21st century! People need to be taught to manage their thoughts, feelings, actions and cognition. To understand that, teach and nurture it is what would happen. Much of our educational system (there are also many excellent teachers and great schools out there, albeit too few), our course content and our assessment procedures have nothing whatever to do with brain compatibility:the need for discussion, learning to collaborate and problem solve, consensus building and empathy are the things that are missing from our education….all brain-based. We do not assess for strengths….only weaknesses.

    We need, as a nation to start putting as much money and effort into our ‘Brainless’ education system as we put into our prisons. We have more incarcerated people in our country than any other country in the world. Hungry children and homeless, terminal poverty and hopeless do not sound like the America we aspire to be.These people, many of them may have had wonderful minds and maybe even dreamed great dreams. We have failed them and we are losing more and more people. We need to stop blaming teachers, schools, parents and kids and start seriously looking at the young minds we are molding, how they think, how they learn, and what they need, to have a future and what the world will need from them.
    This is brain work!!!!!! If our university researchers and medical researchers can be given funding and mandates to conduct this kind of research, it could save the world.

    Thank you for this opportunity to speak for the Brain Initiative.

    Judy A. Smith, Ed. D.
    Adjunct faculty, California State University, Fullerton
    College of Education, Department of Special education
    International Brain Education Certified Instructor

    • betsyhill says:

      You make some very important points for educators, researchers and policymakers. The potential for change is both extraordinary and extraordinarily important!

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