Brain Research

September 15, 1978

Report Outline
Advances in New Glamor Science
Biologic Basis of New Advances
Ethics of Psychotropic Drugs Use
Special Focus

Advances in New Glamor Science

High Expectations From Recent Research

One of the more obscure sciences, brain research, has in the past few years become one of the most glamorous. A number of advances in research have not only provided a new understanding of how the brain functions but have started a rain of predictions about the future. “We are on the edge of a choose-your-mood society,” a scientist was quoted as saying in the pages of Fortune magazine. “Those of us who work in the field [of brain research] see a developing potential for nearly total control of human emotion status, mental functioning, the will to act.”

In a similar vein, an editor of Science News said last year: “We may well be on the threshold of a provocative new era of using the brain's own chemicals to improve mind and behavior. The discoveries now being made hold exciting and profound implications for helping people suffering from all sorts of behavioral problems….” And in Quest magazine, Jo Durden-Smith wrote: “We are at…‘the newest frontier.’ A new generation of opiates and mood drugs (to be used or abused as future generations see fit), a new control over mental disorder, a new explanation for (and perhaps control over) the activities central to the functioning of human beings — these things seem assured.”

The popular magazines have had an outpouring of stories on the subject, and the predictions go on. But even the neuroscientists themselves, who are slower to reach conclusions, are willing to say that the sudden surge forward in the brain sciences may be greater in its effect than the “antibiotics revolution” which has already transformed medicine in this century.

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