Scientists say Australia could develop a world-first bionic brain if the federal government puts money into developing a research centre.
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25 Feb 2014 - 5:54 PM  UPDATED 25 Feb 2014 - 8:02 PM

A think tank, hosted by the Academy of Science, has recommended a one-stop-shop facility that brings together researchers from a number of different disciplines to help develop a world-first bionic brain in Australia.

The facility would cost taxpayers $250 million over ten years.

Dr Vincent Daria, of the Australian National University, said it would be invaluable for the development of an electronic simulation of the body's most important organ.

"It really would be great in terms of collaboration to have a common facility,"  he said.

Dr Andrew Barron, of Macquarie University's School of Biological Sciences, agreed.

"We're now at the point where a functional map of the brain is a possibility, and it's only a matter of when," he said.

"It's not science fiction anymore; it's now an emerging reality."

COMMENT: It's time to create a bionic brain for smarter research

Dr Victoria O'Collins, of The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, said the bionic brain would have applications for the prevention and treatment of mental illness and brain injury.

"Understanding what's happening [to the brain] on a cellular level is pivotally important," she said.

Alzheimer's Disease suffer Noel Noonan welcomed the emphasis on brain research.

"I've got my fingers crossed for the future," the 87-year-old said.

Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton said the Coalition has put an unprecedented amount of money towards dementia research.

The Coalition had pledged $200 million towards fighting the disease before the 2013 election.

"This is really a war against dementia," Mr Dutton said.

"We are pleased to be leading it."

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