This week, the National Institutes of Health released a report on the future of neuroscience, which Gary Marcus calls “the first substantive step in developing President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative.” Marcus considers the report’s nine outlined goals:
The most important goal, in my view, is buried in the middle of the list at No. 5, which seeks to link human behavior with the activity of neurons. This is more daunting than it seems: scientists have yet to even figure out how the relatively simple, three-hundred-and-two-neuron circuitry of the C. Elegans worm works, in part because there are so many possible interactions that can take place between sets of neurons. A human brain, by contrast, contains approximately eighty-six billion neurons.
To progress, we need to learn how to combine the insights of molecular biochemistry, which has come to dominate the lowest reaches of neuroscience, with the study of computation and cognition, which…
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