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To Your Health: NLM update Transcript

International efforts to understand the human brain: 12/07/2015

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Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and MedlinePlus.gov

Regards to all our listeners!

I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).

Here is what's new this week in To Your Health, a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM, that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.

Researchers representing nine programs in several nations are working together to revolutionize the scientific understanding of the human brain, explains a perspective recently published in Science.

The authors (who are two participants in the U.S. Brain initiative from Cold Spring Harbor and Stanford University) write (and we quote): 'we are on the verge of a fundamental leap toward understanding the human brain, and the implications for health and society are profound' (end of quote).

The authors explain the goals of the diverse international projects include: providing greater insight into the inner workings of the human brain; helping to treat brain disorders that are a public health and medical challenge in all nations; as well as inspiring brain-like computer design and intelligence technologies.

The authors add the ultimate goal of the ongoing international scientific collaboration is to (and we quote) 'achieve a deeper understanding of what makes us human' (end of quote).

The authors report a June meeting in China brought together participating scientists and physicians from the human brain research initiatives underway in the U.S., Japan, Western Europe, S. Korea, China, Canada, Taiwan, and Australia. The authors express confidence that the varied efforts in different nations will be coordinated and data sharing is expected among all participants.

The authors explain the sudden global interest in unprecedented brain research is generated by (and we quote): 'new tools for visualizing, recording, and manipulating neurons and neural circuits (that enable) deeper insight into how the brain processes information and guides behavior' (end of quote).

The authors add advances in computer science also have boosted the capacity of scientists to analyze and share large data sets. In fact, the authors credit the information technology generated from the Human Genome Project a quarter-century ago that we discussed in last week's podcast.

The authors conclude (and we quote): 'The collective success of these projects will be enormous' (end of quote).

Meanwhile, MedlinePlus.gov's brain diseases health topic page helps you follow the progress as scientists and physicians make pioneering efforts in basic and applied brain research.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides a basic guide to understanding the brain in a website called 'Brain Basics,' that is accessible within the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's brain diseases health topic page.

MedlinePlus.gov's brain diseases health topic page provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the 'journal articles' section. Links to clinical trials that may be occurring in your area are available in the 'clinical trials' section. It is likely many of the applied health initiatives in international brain research will be listed here in the future. You also can sign up to receive updates about brain diseases as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.

To find MedlinePlus.gov's brain diseases health topic page, please type 'brain diseases' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page. Then, click on 'brain diseases (National Library of Medicine).'

Incidentally, we were surprised to discover the U.S. Brain Initiative, which received $100 million in taxpayer supported research funds within the past year, is one of several, similar international scientific initiatives, which share common goals.

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It was nice to be with you. Please join us here next week and here's to your health!