Carnegie Mellon University launched an initiative dubbed CMU BrainHub aimed at learning how the structure and activity of the brain can give rise to complex behaviors. Through this initiative, researchers hope to shed light on topics such as cognition, learning, and perception as well as on brain disorders such as autism and Parkinson's disease.

CMU BrainHub will, according to CMU, focus on several key areas of research: designing new tools to measure and connect brain function and behavior, creating computational tools to combine and analyze neuroscience and behavioral data from around the world, and developing new methods to train the brain to improve its performance or treat neurological disorders. To do this, CMU says it plans to recruit at least 10 new faculty members in the brain sciences and to establish new sources of support for graduate students and postdocs.

As part of the initiative, CMU scientists will collaborate with those from Sun Yat-sen University in China, the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, Oxford University, the University of Warwick, and the University of Pittsburgh to develop computational and technological tools for studying the links between the brain and behavior. BrainHub, CMU says, will also promote the dissemination and commercialization of especially promising advances made via the initiative, and provide seed funding through ProSEED, the Simon Initiative, and other vehicles for “big bet” projects.

“This dynamic partnership, bringing together expertise from across CMU and global university, government, and corporate sponsors, will allow us to deepen our understanding of how the brain performs the computations that underlie the functions that we take for granted in our daily life—how we see and hear, learn, remember, and move,” Nathan Urban, CMU's interim provost, said in a statement.

BrainHub and CMU's brain science research will be supported over the next five years by initial commitments totaling about $75 million from sources including the Hillman Foundation, RK Mellon Foundation and Dietrich Foundation, Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan, institutional partners, the U.S. federal and local government, and internal CMU commitments from colleges and schools.

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