Skip to main content

View Diary: Going Foreward with Brain Imaging Should Include a New "Neuroethics" (47 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Doesn't seem to be very much connected with the (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wa ma, melo, CroneWit, cynndara

    really exciting, really challenging work in brain research and performance of the last forty years.  I am not a Phd in any of the neurosciences, but I did have exposure by way of immunology, biochemistry, bacteriology, neuroanatomy to know back in the 70's there were big changes coming.

    A popular, for lay and niche workers alike about the advances in performance, retraining, new discoveries in development, mapping and using the new knowledge about the brain is Norman Doidge's book, "The Brain That Changes Itself".

           It was a  best seller back in 2007  in which the war among neuroscientists between localization and rigidity of brain mapping and function contrasts with neuroplasticity and the realization that things are nowhere and no way as fixed and permanent as we might have been taught  by the central dogma of neuroanatomists and neuroscience in general for nearly a hundred years.

    My question to readers  of the post and  this thread is: what does this mapping project actually do, given the focus is partially irrelevant, partially obsolete, and seemingly dedicated to digging into the brain to find commercial applications?

    •  a reasonable question (5+ / 0-)

      Many neuroscience researchers have expressed similar skepticism.  The comments section of this blog post illustrate some of the issues being discussed in the field.

      As I mentioned above, a lot of this mapping business is already going on in the private sector.  It may or not be the most cost-effective way to understand brains, but it is coming, and the public is not paying for much of it.  The data are pouring in now, but it remains unclear if all these data interesting.  The question for the the government science agencies is how to best use the new maps to do something bold and  worthwhile for brain science and medicine.

      Some of the ongoing controversies in the mapping projects involve arguments about which models are most informative.  If we wish to build a tiny flying machine that can maneuver around a room like a fly, then a fly brain might be a good model for a control system.

      However, in my opinion, the big questions about human brain science and medicine are not well-addressed by simpler animal models.  We are unique because of our huge cerebral cortex.  Figuring out how that part of the brain works brings us closer to not only understanding Alzheimer's, Schizophrenia, etc--it also brings us into the realm of what makes us human.

      Luckily, the cerebral cortex, the largest part of our brain, is organized into repeating layers of neurons.  Understanding how these carbon-based circuits store and retrieve memories might, in the future, lead to silicone circuits based on biological principles.  And that is pretty darn cool.

      All forms of fundamentalist thought breed magical thinking.

      by YankInUK on Sat May 11, 2013 at 03:45:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  One Thing It Could Fund (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melo, CroneWit, cynndara

      Is a statistically valid comparative neuro-anatomy of the Hominidae family: chimps, bonobos, orangutans, human; the largest such study used (IIRC) 8 brains of chimps, 4 of bonobos, 2 of gorillas, and 6 human.   (And I'm not going to get into how absurd those numbers are.)   A study we very much need if, for no other reason, to stop people burbling on about how gosh-darn super-special (with secret sauce!) us humans is.

      Unfortunately, after looking at the people behind BRAIN, the prospect of such a study being funded is zilch.

      "...[one] must still have Chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star." Nietzsche

      by ATinNM on Sat May 11, 2013 at 04:20:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  what i am hearing on the 'streets of neuroscience' (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      YankInUK, nzanne

      is that it is not clear what it will fund, but likely to fund alot of optogenetics experiments and high resolution imaging, like with 2-photon microscopy. (i am a neuroscientist).

      of course, here's the funny part. Congress has to approve it. hahaha... congress has to approve an Obama initiative..

      "None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps" Thurgood Marshall

      by UTvoter on Sat May 11, 2013 at 09:34:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site