Scientific Foresight (STOA) By / November 28, 2016

Understanding the Human Brain: A New Era of Big Neuroscience

Written by Gianluca Quaglio with James Tarlton, Decoding the human brain remains one of the greatest scientific challenges of our…

Shutterstock / Anita Ponne

Written by Gianluca Quaglio with James Tarlton,

Decoding the human brain remains one of the greatest scientific challenges of our time. On 29 November 2016, the STOA (Science and Technology Assessment) Panel will host a workshop entitled ‘Understanding the Human Brain: A New Era of Big Neuroscience’, at which representatives from some of the world’s leading brain initiatives will present their work and discuss the future of neuroscience projects across the globe.

Brain concept
Shutterstock / Anita Ponne

The workshop is organised jointly with the European Commission, and will highlight the following initiatives:

  • the EU FET flagship human brain project (HBP), launched by the European Commission in 2013 with predicted funding of €1 billion over its ten-year lifespan, which focuses on developing a European research infrastructure for advancing brain research, medicine and brain-inspired information technology;
  • the US brain research through advancing innovative neurotechnologies initiative (BRAIN), launched in 2013 with a budget of €4.5 billion over 12 years, which focuses on the development of new technologies for recording brain circuit activity and mapping the brain in unprecedented detail;
  • the Japan Brain/MINDS project, launched at the end of 2014, and due to receive €300 million over ten years, which aims at understanding the cellular and circuit basis of behaviour, using models of human brain diseases.

Representatives from each initiative will give an overview of their project, its status, achievements, opportunities for cooperation, and future plans. The event will be chaired by MEP and STOA Vice-Chair Evžen Tošenovský, and moderated by Maurizio Corbetta from the University of Padova, Italy. Roberto Viola, Director General of the European Commission’s DG CONNECT will introduce the event, which will include presentations by leading representatives of HBP (Katrin Amunts), the US BRAIN initiative (Walter Koroshetz), and Japan’s Brain/MINDS project (Tetsuo Yamamori).

Twitter hashtag: #HBPSTOA
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These presentations will be followed by a panel discussion between representatives of the three initiatives and the European Commission, as well as Members of the European Parliament and leading experts in neuroscience. The panellists will discuss international opportunities for cooperation in neuroscience research and the benefits that such research will bring to individual citizens and society as a whole.

This STOA workshop will add momentum and ideas to the ongoing discussions about strengthening collaboration among the international brain initiatives. A first proposal for European HBP and US brain initiative cooperation will be announced, which will serve as a starting point for future joint international activities in this field.

Throughout 29 and 30 November, the Human Brain Project will run an exhibition showcasing the project’s work and its unique contributions to European neuroscience, computing and research ethics (Balcony ASP 5G). Some of the HBP’s leading researchers will be available to provide tours of the exhibition and answer questions about the project.

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