The BRAIN Initiative announced this week by President Barack Obama has underscored the importance of better understanding brain-behavior relationships and 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.
“The BRAIN initiative has been likened to the Human Genome mapping project,” said Betsy Hill, president and chief operating officer of Learning Enhancement Corporation (LEC),” 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.”
While the hope is that the knowledge of the brain’s mechanisms will ultimately help in the search for cures for diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, the technologies are also intended to explore “how the brain processes, uses, stores, and retrieves vast quantities of information,” according to the White House’s Fact Sheet on the subject.
Roger Stark, LEC’s chief executive officer commented on the relationship of the BRAIN initiative to existing tools and technologies. Said Stark, “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, LEC’s director of scientific affairs commented, “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.”
About Learning Enhancement Corporation
Learning Enhancement Corporation has developed a software platform for learning that combines the latest neuroscience with motivating video-game technology. Its flagship product, BrainWare Safari, develops 41 cognitive skills in a comprehensive, integrated and engaging way. BrainWare Safari was named one of the Top 100 Products of 2011 by District Administration Magazine, and has earned an impressive array of awards including the Software and Information Industry CODiE Award as Best Education Game or Simulation; a Parents’ Choice Award, a Teachers’ Choice for the Family Award; the Academics’ Choice Mindspring Award; a Mom’s Choice Award; a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Association of Educational Publishers and the Parent Tested Parent Approved Seal of Approval. LEC won the EdNET Rookie of the Year Award in 2006, honoring the most promising venture with the greatest potential to be a significant player in the education industry in the coming years. For further information, visit www.MyBrainWare.com or call 877-BRAIN-10 (877-272-4610).