As an ambitious initiative of the European Commission, the Human Brain Project (HBP) must unite basic neuroscience research with information and communication technology (see www.humanbrainproject.eu). However, many neuroscientists are concerned that it has failed to do so (see http://neurofuture.eu). We believe that it is not too late to put the HBP on course and restore confidence by swift and decisive action.
In our opinion, to let the HBP plough ahead without taking into account widespread views within the European neuroscience community would be akin to giving the lead on climate studies to the critics of global warming. Cooperative and effective large-scale research cannot be decreed: it has to emerge from inclusive discussion and respect for scientific argument.
This will require the European Commission to implement significant changes. For example, the HBP charter needs to be amended to make its governance much more democratic: the direction of a project on this scale must reflect a maximally consensual scientific process. We also suggest that a neuroscience council should be created to formulate a strategy for Europe that is inclusive and scientifically driven, and which would help to drive partnering grants and international collaboration.
We stand committed to working with the European Commission and the HBP, but inclusivity and good governance are essential to meet the huge challenges of understanding the human brain.