Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Brain Puzzle

PostedMarch 3, 2013

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Anchor Lede: In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama touted the importance of projects to map the human brain. A team of local researchers has already started.

Randy Atkins: Scientists have lots of images showing brain cells, called neurons, and their connections, called synapses. But Randal Burns, an engineer at Johns Hopkins, says diagramming how those pieces fit together is a huge job.

Randal Burns: This is a hundred trillion neurons, each of which connects to thousands or tens of thousands of other neurons.

Randy Atkins: He’s taking on the first step.

Randal Burns: Our project is storing massive amounts of data.

Randy Atkins: Because if all those brain images can be accessed from one place, it might be easier to figure out how our brains are built.

Randal Burns: Someone will have the best technique to find synapses and someone will have the best technique to connect different cells together.

Randy Atkns: Allowing a team approach to this massive puzzle that is our brain. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.