Four scientists and representatives of research institutions told The New York Times they participated in planning for what is being called the Brain Activity Map project. Details are not final, but it is expected to be a collaborative effort that might ultimately cost billions.
President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address brain research was an example of how the government should "invest in the best ideas."
"Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy -- every dollar," Obama said in the State of the Union. "Today our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer's. They're developing drugs to regenerate damaged organs, devising new materials to make batteries 10 times more powerful. Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation."
George M. Church, a Harvard University molecular biologist who helped create the Human Genome Project, told the Times he was helping to plan the Brain Activity Map project.
"The Human Genome Project was on the order of about $300 million a year for a decade," Church said.
The Human Genome Project cost $3.8 billion and a federal government study of the impact of the project indicated it returned $800 billion by 2010.
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy declined to comment.