What’s the point of neuroscience? Why do we spend billions of dollars investigating those three pounds of flesh inside the head? Sure, human nature is interesting, and self-knowledge is a virtuous pursuit, but let’s be honest: we study the brain because we don’t want to die. Because we want cures for awful afflictions. Because we’re desperate to avoid depression and addiction and dementia. The only way to justify the terrific expense of biomedical research is medicine.
Here’s the bad news: I think neuroscience has yet to deliver on its therapeutical potential. We’ve learned an astonishing amount about the brain in recent years – a ten year old textbook is totally obsolete – but all this shiny new knowledge has yet to heal us. As a result, we’re still stuck with pills and treatments that are frustratingly ineffective.