The Latest Brief on Brain, Science and Mind — Head of NIMH

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Excerpted from article by head of NIMH —

“Science teaches us how to analyze data, separating information from marketing. A few basic principles that are the bedrock of scientific thinking, like “correlation is not causation,” are sadly missed by high school and college graduates who thought that science was learning facts and not learning a way of thinking.

Scientific thinking might not be good for some of our nation’s commercial interests, from selling lottery tickets to marketing medicines, but it is good for our nation’s future, especially if we are to compete successfully against those 16 countries who appear to “out-educate” us in analytic thinking.

If we need science as a subject to help us compete, we need science as a career to help us ask questions.  Science is fundamentally about questioning our assumptions.

Great science questions our biggest assumptions about our place in the universe, where we came from, who we are.  Our greatest scientific discoveries are important precisely because they overthrow the dominant paradigm.

..the essence of science is questioning what the crowd believes and what all of us assume. This kind of science is disruptive because it is counter-intuitive.

“The purpose of science is not to open the door to an infinitude of wisdom but to set some limit to the infinitude of error.”

If the last few centuries have led to a revolution in our understanding of our place in the universe—outer space—all the indications are that this century will revolutionize how we understand our minds—inner space.

Neuroscience is changing the way we think about ourselves, overthrowing many of the facts we have all been taught about the brain and the mind. Just a few new insights:
• Brain development continues through age 25
• New neurons are born throughout life
• The cortex looks busiest at rest
• The brain organizes the world in a way that our minds might never have suspected
• Mental disorders can be studied as brain disorders.

Freud, said that dreams were the royal road to the unconscious, today we can travel the brain as the royal road to the mind.”

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