Friday, February 4, 2011

What Will the Future Hold for Man and Neuroscience?

The other night my husband and I watched a Nova special on brain science. It was fascinating, but I really started wondering what this would mean for society.

As brain science has found that every brain has unique characteristics, in fact, the brain is like an individual's fingerprint. Every person's transmitter's respond or react differently.

There was one abberation that was interesting. Those that see numbers or letters in color, even if they view a picture in black and white. For them, the numbers or letters are not black and white, but in color! Some see music. Now, I don't feel so "alone" in my physical experience of feeling emotion. Or how my thinking actually impacts my experience. In fact, I can't experience things without the thought process!

What will the future hold, though, if it is found that humans are basically their brain? Will the brain be "trained" to certain societal 'advantages"? Will brain surgury be as common as an apendectomy?

Not too long ago, psychiatrists treated mental illnesses with lobotomies. Will something similiar be in our future, in brain "formation"? Will our brains be understood as "just another computor". And will we understand the human brain as a controllable "substance"?

Is mind control something that de-humanizes man? Who will defend the right to one's brain? Or will the brain only be a collective assest or detriment? But, isn't this how we view men today, anyway? If someone thinks differently, then they are viewed with suspiscion. Social deviants are a detriment to society, or are they? What standards are being held to judge aberrant behavior? or ways of understanding or seeing things?

What does this mean to cultural diversity? linguistics? Is the brain a register of environmental impacts, or is the brain a self-determining entity, that innately "holds its own"? How are researchers determining which is which? As one researcher pointed out, there isn't a way for men to offer their brains for experimentation. So, is that to mean that experiments would be done unwillingly? Who will make that determination? Will all people be susceptible to the same experiementation? Certainly a cross section of society should be studied if there are to be checks and balances as to environmental impacts upon the brain.

It is certainly a fascinating subject. And the questions about investigating and the outcomes will need to be confined in some way, if we want to limit intrusive invasions to privacy. Will brain science be the end of "man", as an individual, or will it be the beginning of understanding man's individuality? Will the answer depend upon what is most important? Man or society? Is this the end of freedom as we know it, or just the beginning? It will be an intereting and challenging future, for sure!

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