What is the future of the brain?

I recently read Gary Marcus and Jeremy Freeman’s new book, The Future of the Brain and was so enthusiastic about it I decided to write a review. And got a bit carried away. Oh well. Hopefully it makes sense:

The past two decades has seen an explosion in tools that can dissect and record signals in the brain. Diverse sets of molecules that allow investigation of tens to hundreds of neurons simultaneously has drastically improved our spatial knowledge of the brain. Light-activated ion channels combined with genetics have allowed us to precisely label and manipulate specific types of neurons. What was once a field devoted to such physics-era concepts of electrodes and membrane voltages is slowly moving in the direction of molecular biology, with signaling cascades and custom-made viruses being the tools of the day.

What we would like to understand, though, is what are the tools of tomorrow? Where is neuroscience heading? The Future of the Brain, edited by Gary Marcus and Jeremy Freeman, collects essays from a series of neuroscientists on the direction research is moving. Importantly for a field as variegated as neuroscience, every essay has a distinct take on what is the important direction in which to move. But several themes emerge.

The best thing I can say about this book is that it made me stop and think. Most books about the brain I kind of skim because I already generally know the topic and few new ideas are put forth. The Future of the Brain important thoughts that need to be grappled with and is filled with things that I did not know.

If you are still looking to get a present for someone who is interested in neuroscience, I’d give them this book.

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