This news may date but Obama stood in a line of Presidents announcing Big Science. Some were successful like the Moon Landings; others were a hostage to complexity like the war on cancer. The latest speech falls in the latter camp.
Neurologists have been moving towards a more ambitious reseach programme for brain research. This is based upon a more diverse range of technologies that promise to allow wider mapping through non-invasive techniques. The important emphasis here is on non-invasive. However, brains have proved impervious to theoretical. The stubborn grey matter is immune to itself, or at least part that theorises about what it is. Yet, the advances in research and the lobbying of scientists, nationally and internationally, led to this speech, this announcement, this campaign.
Will Obama's speech and subsequent piecemeal funding provide adequate resource and motivation to create a true and overall understanding of the brain? Perhaps, but more probably not. Larger funding may champion a risk-averse research program: a common problem with state funded science. The articles describes parallels with the Human Genome Project, a simpler challenge that was enlivened by the competition from Celera.
Perhaps diversity and competition for grants will be sufficient to check mediocrity and avoid the application of Grasham's Law. Perhaps not! The more complex the object of study, the longer the timescales.
Obama's speech may well enter the same pantheon as Nixon's War on Cancer or that future leader who will raise the same expectations on space colonisation, AI and defeating aging.