ciety for Neuroscience describing the study and inviting opinions and suggestions. Similar descriptions with a request for input were also published in selected scientific journals (for examples, see Appendix B ).
Finally, symposia and open hearings were held in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Chicago. Invitations to these events were sent to members of the Society for Neuroscience within roughly a 300-mile radius of each meeting location. The program for each meeting included scientific presentations by a leading neuroscientist and by a scientist from the field of genetics or molecular modeling with experience in the use of computer and information technology in their research. Also on the agenda were demonstrations of prototype brain databases and brain imaging technologies. Finally, each meeting included an open hearing component in which selected committee members reviewed some of the issues being considered in the study and subsequently opened the floor to comments and suggestions from those in attendance. (Appendix C contains lists of speakers and demonstrators.)
The input received through these mechanisms reflected a wide variety of experiences and outlooks. Among the neuroscientists involved, some were already committed to the development of computer resources for research purposes, some had no such commitment and were more neutral, and some were frankly skeptical. In addition, they held a variety of posts, ranging from journal editors to postdoctoral fellows and from those employed in large laboratories to those working in single-person operations. Individuals in charge of library resources, scientific database administration and design, and biomedical computer applications were especially valuable participants. Each subdiscipline of computer science—including database design, graphics, software development, networks, and hardware design—was represented. In addition, participants came from academic departments, government laboratories, and private industry.
Some separation of the topics covered in each of these information-gathering activities was apparent. Participants in the open hearings and those who responded to the committee's requests for opinions were concerned largely with three issues: (1) the kind of database and the kinds of data that would be useful to them in their research, (2) the possible institution of standard methods of data collection, and (3) funding of the proposed project. In addition to these matters, task forces devoted substantial time to technical issues and administration, oversight, and implementation strategies. This chapter attempts to capture the richness of the discussions that took place throughout these activities and outlines the data on which the committee's recommendations are based.