Afterword

With all the hype and mythology that swirls around the brain, the risk is that people will become disillusioned with neuroscience for failing to provide the revolution in human understanding that many have heralded. In 2013, there were signs of a backlash. The year saw publication of articles with revealing headlines: “Neuroscience Under Attack” (Alissa Quart in The New York Times Sunday Review1); “Pop Neuroscience Is Bunk”2 (Sally Satel and Scott Lilienfeld in Salon, although note the title was not chosen by the authors), and “Beyond the Brain”3 (David Brooks in The New York Times), to name but a few.

There seems to be a rising mood of skepticism, weariness with the clichéd media coverage of new results, and a growing recognition that neuroscience complements psychology, it can't possibly replace it. But let's remember too that neuroscience is in its infancy. We are unearthing new findings at an astonishing rate, many of which are already helping people with devastating brain disorders. This includes the dawn of computer-brain interfaces allowing paralyzed people to interact with the world, and the exciting potential of stem-cell technologies for repairing damaged brains. Neuroimaging is also informing and constraining our psychological theories of how the mind works (see p. 183).

Let's celebrate our progress and acknowledge the great work of our talented neuroscientists. Often their most important results don't make for catchy headlines. Yet many are conducting research ...

Get Great Myths of the Brain now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.