Baker Institute expert discusses economic burden of American brain health at UN General Assembly

Brain example

The economic burden of brain and mental health-related disorders — along with the need to fuel innovation in the field so the U.S. can continue to compete economically — has prompted the need for a brain science-inspired industrial strategy that will build America’s “brain capital,” argues an expert from Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

Neuroscientist Harris Eyre from the Baker Institute and colleagues with Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, University of California at Berkeley, University of California at San Francisco, Stanford University, Federation of American Scientists, American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and Baylor College of Medicine discussed brain health and brain capital — the cognitive, emotional and social brain resources of citizens — at the United Nations General Assembly Science Summit Sept. 18-19.

Brain example

Brain health is a critical aspect of human well-being, affecting cognitive abilities, emotional stability and overall quality of life, Eyre explains, and the growing prevalence of brain disorders is taking a steep economic toll. Mental health disorders are estimated to cost the global economy $5 trillion per year, and that number is projected to rise to $16 trillion by 2030.

Eyre’s proposal addresses the key brain health challenges facing America: untreated mental health issues, rising rates of Alzheimer’s disease, poorly managed learning disorders and the need to surge creativity and entrepreneurship within the American economy to help alleviate the problems.

“Governments, academia and the private sector need to unite to tackle this goal of improving our brain function and enhancing our potential,” Eyre said. “Funding initiatives, research partnerships and open dialogue will be critical to drive this movement forward. By championing an American-led industry focused on improving brain function, we have the chance to reshape industries, enhance lives and shape a future that works for people’s brains.”

His proposed brain capital industrial strategy is a public sector strategy that focuses on building economic resilience through an emphasis on cultivating citizens’ brain health and brain skills to contribute to an innovative and thriving economy. Eyre's research also addresses neuroscience’s effects on national security, economic security and sustainability.