Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Introduction of the BRAIN Project

At President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Address the next potential US government initiated international project was introduced. If you didn’t catch it is the brain mapping.  So the last project was the well-known Human Genome Project (HGP).  That project mapped out a chromosome which was a costly project but provided fruitful and immensely beneficial developments such as gene therapyToday, in a press release the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) program was announced. 

The obvious correlation of this project is through Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) however let us considering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  A 2006 article (pdf link) cites many effects of traumatic stress on the brain.

Stress results in acute and chronic changes in neurochemical systems and specific brain regions, which result in long term changes in brain “circuits,” involved in the stress response. Brain regions that are felt to play an important role in PTSD include hippocampus, amygdala, and medial prefrontal cortex. Cortisol and norepinephrine are two neurochemical systems that are critical in the stress response. (Bremner, 2006)

This article goes into much detail about the functions of the brain.  One section deals with cognitive processes.  This section notes deficits in declarative memory. This is long term memory like events or knowledge.  So any way that article is packed full of great information. 

This project could be very fruitful however I feel that this project will be more challenging than the HGP.  My number one reason for it being more complicated is brain/neuro plasticity. This is the brains ability and inclination to alter itself.  It can change both functionally and physically.  Confused yet?  Here is a link to PTSD and the Brain webpage that has many more great links. 
How do you think the BRAIN project could affect service members, veterans and their families? 

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