$91 Million for the Developing Brain

The initiative is a "hybrid partnership," says Patricia Kuhl of the University of Washington, between the university and the new Talaris nonprofit corporation. She and her husband, psychologist Andrew Meltzoff, are co-directors of a new Center for Mind, Brain, and Learning at the university which, says Kuhl, is the "research arm" of the institute. Talaris will build a $50 million research facility on a site near the university.

"I think we're unique" as a neuroscience center in focusing just on the first 5 years of life, says Meltzoff. "That's where the mother lode is." Headed by molecular biologist John Modina, the institute is aiming for a staff of 14 researchers and about 100 support personnel working in developmental psychology, neuroscience, education, molecular biology, and computer science.

John Bruer, president of the James S. McDonnell Foundation in St. Louis, which funds neuroscience research, notes that a pervasive "myth" these days is that "brain science can currently give specific guidance" to parents and teachers--a myth that reached its acme a couple of years ago when Georgia Governor Zell Miller proposed to hand out Mozart CDs to Georgia newborns to boost their math abilities. In fact, says Bruer, "it is a huge leap from brain science to educational practice." But the new center "offers an exciting site" where that gap might be bridged.

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