Brain science has become a hot topic in global scientific research in recent years. After three years of preparations, China Brain Project, focused on brain science and brain research, has been listed as a major science and technology project into the national 13th Five-Year Plan.
Since 2015, scientists have reached a preliminary consensus on the brain research in China, that is, “one body, two wings”. The deployment reached is to explain the human cognitive basis of the nerve as the main and core “one body”, to understand the brain. Meanwhile, the “two wings” means to protect and stimulate the brain: one wing is to vigorously strengthen the research about prevention, diagnosis and treatment of brain disease; the other wing is the rapid development of big data analysis in the context of brain research by the principles and mechanisms of operation and system simulation to promote artificial intelligence (AI) research.
The capital scale invested in the project will be comparable with precedents in Europe and the US. The total investment in the US and the EU is expected to be $6 billion and €1 billion ($1.2 billion), respectively over a period of more than ten years. The specific details have not yet finalized in China. Except for government funds, private capital is expected to participate in as well.
With abundant funds approaching, professionals from the brain industry have confidence to accelerate the promotion and transformation of R&D results in the field of brain science. Not only can scientists better understand the etiology of Alzheimer’s syndrome, depression and other diseases, but the development of AI will also be a great advantage in China.
In recent years, the international scientific community have seen an emerging trend of brain science and brain-like intelligence technology to integrate with each other. Deepening research of the brain’s cognitive neural principles helps improve the level of human understanding of our own, enhance the diagnosis and treatment of brain disease, promote the development of brain computing systems and devices and break the traditional constraints in computer architecture.
Brain disease is a major challenge threatening the health of China’s population. In the world, almost 1 billion patients suffer from brain diseases each year, contributing to an economic burden of around 1 trillion US dollars. At present, the vast majority of brain disease has no effective treatment. Scientists still don’t have a clear understanding of the etiology and pathogenesis of diseases including Alzheimer’s syndrome, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia, depression, drug addiction, and central nervous system damage. Scientists hope that the “human brain map” along with other latest research results would facilitate early diagnosis of these diseases, and develop more effective treatment.
Meanwhile, brain science will be more closely linked with information science, computational science and other engineering science and the interaction will be more active among each other. With the aid of brain function atlas, it’s now possible for humans to build up a cognition of the perfect brain. In 2012, Chinese Academy of Sciences launched a brain function atlas project to study the various levels of the brain under the neural loop, neural network and neural link map, thereby allowing people to understand the mechanism of brain work and bring inspiration to AI technology.
Since 2013, the United States has been committed to using the new technical means to build up the brain activity map and explore the working mechanism of the brain. The EU is hoping to use information and communication technology (ICT) to systematically generate, analyze, and simulate data research platform, so as to promote the development of human brain science research. The US governments will invest around $5 billion in the brain science research.
By contrast, the number in China is about $200 million, only 4% of the level of America. Although the field of brain science in China has made significant progress, but the progress is slow, largely due to lacking in funds over the years. With the Brain Project to come out at the end of 2017, countless opportunities will emerge and enable scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs to realize their dreams.
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