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By Hilary Rose, Steven Rose

Neuroscience, with its striking new applied sciences, is uncovering the workings of the mind and with this probably the brain. The 'neuro' prefix spills out into each zone of lifestyles, from neuroaesthetics to neuroeconomics, neurogastronomy and neuroeducation. With its promise to therapy actual and social ills, executive sees neuroscience as a device to extend the 'mental capital' of the youngsters of the disadvantaged and Read more...

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Neuroscience, with its fabulous new applied sciences, is uncovering the workings of the mind and with this possibly the brain. The 'neuro' prefix spills out into each region of lifestyles, from neuroaesthetics Read more...

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FMRI The starting point was the invention of magnetic-resonance imaging (MRI), a scanning method that involves positioning a person in a strong oscillating magnetic field. The field excites hydrogen atoms in the body (mainly in the form of water) and these in turn emit a radio signal that the detector picks up. MRI provides three-dimensional X-ray-type pictures of brain structures, invaluable for identifying damaged regions after stroke or trauma. The key development transforming such static images in dynamic movies of the brain at work came in the 1990s with functional magnetic-resonance imaging (fMRI).

The HBP's grand project of building a computer simulation of the human brain did not appear on the list. So much for being in the driver's seat and the breakthrough in participatory governance: instead of ‘ordinary people’ being involved, the HBP has outsourced the task of securing public trust by appointing professional bioethicists and/or sociologists to the project. In the beginning was the mouse The Human Brain Project begins with the premise that, as Swiss-based neuroscientist Henry Markram, its initiator and coordinator, puts it,5 the human brain is ‘the world's most sophisticated information processing machine’, operating, however, on principles currently unknown but ‘that seem to be completely different from those of conventional computers’.

Dead and damaged brains were fine for anatomists and microscopists, but, to study the workings of the living brain, physiologists and biochemists turned to the well-established laboratory stalwarts – rats, cats, dogs and occasionally monkeys – with all the problems of translation between animal and human brains that this entails. In animals, physiologists could study the electrical properties of nerves, biochemists the specificities of brain chemistry and metabolism, and pharmacologists the effects of drugs on both.

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