Local Organizations React to President's Brain Mapping Proposal

By: Estephany Escobar Email
By: Estephany Escobar Email

HARRISONBURG -- Pres. Barack Obama proposed a $100-million initiative to help with brain research. The project aims to find cure for diseases like Alzheimer's.

Pres. Obama said it could help scientists understand how we think, learn and remember.

"We can identify galaxies light-years away. We can study particles smaller than an atom, but we still haven't unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears," he said.

Members of two organizations that work with people with brain disorders in the Valley said learning how the brain works could save lives.

Brain matter is a mystery that Pres. Obama would like to see solved. That's why he's proposing a project to map the brain's activity.

The plan would help find treatments for Alzheimer's, autism and traumatic brain injuries.

Paul Lavigne works with the Valley Program for Aging Services and those are problems he sees every day. The group serves hot meals to some suffering from brain disorders.

“The saddest part is that there's really no cure for many of the things that affect the brain. Many, many people as they age have this slow death because of the cognitive impairments they experience,” said Lavigne.

The project would cost Congress about $100 million next year.

“Do I think is worth it putting resources in neuroscience and research? Absolutely,” said Michelle Witt with Crossroads, who also helps victims of traumatic brain injuries.

She understands the results from this project won't happen overnight.

“I would hope in the next 20, 30 years if we see the same advances in neuroscience that we see in medicine. Maybe there wouldn't be a need for the types of services that we provide.”

No matter how long it takes, Lavigne said he's happy to see the research begin.

“Carving this out and saying. It's kinda like going to the moon. Saying we need to go to the moon now .They're saying we need to solve this problem," said Lavigne.

The research would involve federal research agencies and private partners. Pres. Obama said it could create innovation and jobs.

Congress will receive a budget from him next week including the proposal.

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