“Today, our scientists are mapping the human brain. . .As humans we can identify galaxies light years away, we can study particles smaller than an atom, but we still haven’t unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter sitting between our ears. . .Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race.”
– President Barack Obama, 2013 State of the Union
From the president on down, we realize how critical it is that we come to understand the human brain–that the level of complexity cradled within it can explain vast amounts about human behavior.
And there have been breakthroughs. We have found that trauma sensitivity may be passed through the generations, that a very light electrical stimulation passed through the brain can improve cognitive performance, that pre-term birth is associated with a higher risk of mental illness, both for the premature baby–and for that that baby’s sibling–that bipolar disorder and schizophrenia may not be different illnesses at all–and that (I kid you not) human and bird brains are more similar than anyone would have suspected (well, maybe some people suspected).
And an astute reader shared an infographic with us about the shattering effects of poverty on the brain, an issue of significant concern, given that 1/8 of the American public, and 1/5 of American children live in poverty. The impact of, as you will see, both in terms of cognitive performance and mental health, is devastating.