Three visions of the future, inspired by neuroscience’s past and present

A century ago, science’s understanding of the brain was primitive, like astronomy before telescopes. Certain brain injuries were known to cause specific problems, like loss of speech or vision, but those findings offered a fuzzy view.

Anatomists had identified nerve cells, or neurons, as key components of the brain and nervous system. But nobody knew how these cells collectively manage the brain’s sophisticated control of behavior, memory or emotions. And nobody knew how neurons communicate, or the intricacies of their connections. For that matter, the research field known as neuroscience — the science of the nervous system — did not exist, becoming known as such only in the 1960s.

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