If only there were just one! A lifetime studying the neurobiology of learning and memory, and I still wonder about St Augustine’s questions 1600 years ago: “How does my brain/mind encompass vast regions of space and time, abstract thoughts and numbers, false propositions” – or for that matter the memory of my fourth birthday party or what I had for breakfast yesterday. Meantime, I am embarrassed by the naivete of my fellow neuroscientists who mechanically collapse mind into brain, or claim to be able to localise within that mass of tissue: equity, empathy, romantic love… “You’re nothing but a bunch of neurons” claimed Francis Crick, locating consciousness in the anterior cingulate gyrus. Lombroso redux indeed! As the mind is wider than the brain, to misquote Emily Dickinson, what other sciences/knowledges do we need to bring to bear to understand ourselves?
Steven Rose is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Open University where he was previously Director of the Brain and Behaviour Research Group. In the 1960s he co-founded the Brain Research Association, now the British Neuroscience Association, which helped shape the newborn field of neuroscience. He is working on a potential therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease.
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