Big Data and the Brain: Peeking at the Future of Neuroscience

Big data is a buzzword commonly tossed around in industry these days. Most simply, big data is a type of statistics—a way of analyzing extremely large data sets with computer algorithms to reveal important patterns and correlations. Corporations in healthcare, retail, and other industry sectors have been trying to leverage big data to help their bottom line for years.  Now large-scale scientific projects are adopting the method, including the National Science Foundation as well as the US BRAIN Initiative. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, says this important basic science undertaking—developing tools and technologies to help create a “dynamic understanding of brain function”—will be fueled, in part, by big data and analytics approaches.  “The focus here is on circuits and networks, trying to understand how those circuits allow…


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