NSF awards $25 million to MIT based center to advance brain understanding
To help encourage progress in learning how the brain performs complex computations, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $25 million to establish a Center for Brains, Minds and Machines at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The center is one of three new research centers funded this year through NSF’s Science and Technology Centers: Integrative Partnerships program.
The MIT center will also play a key role in the new BRAIN Initiative, an effort by federal agencies and private partners to support and coordinate research to understand how the brain works.
“Understanding the brain is one of the grand scientific challenges at the intersection of the physical, life, behavioral and engineering sciences,” said John Wingfield, assistant director of NSF’s Biological Sciences Directorate. “Despite major research and technological advances achieved in recent decades, a comprehensive understanding of the brain — how thoughts, memories and intelligent behavior emerge from dynamic brain activity — remains unexplained.”
Human intelligence has many aspects–including an ability to understand people and surroundings by using vision and language — so the researchers will take a multi-faceted approach. Recent work in artificial intelligence has focused in part on improvements in modeling human vision and social interaction, producing self-driving cars and the verbally quick Watson, for example.