Your Brain in the Future

Cutting-edge neuroscience has escaped from the lab and is suddenly showing up everywhere, changing the way we practice law, go shopping—even, possibly, fall in love.
By Tim Jarvis
It’s been only a decade or so since the world got hardwired, “Google” became a verb, and texting turned into a lifestyle. But if you’re still struggling to thumb a message, brace yourself: A whole new revolution in neuroscience is about to shake up our world.

“Just as information technology has affected everything from the way we do business to human communication,” says Zack Lynch, executive director of the Neurotechnology Industry Organization, “it will be the science of the brain that drives the fundamental changes of the future.” You can already see it starting to happen, and it may affect the way we spend our moneychoose our mates, and punish criminals. It could even change our concepts of guilt and innocence.

Five other predictions on how brain science may change the way we live:

Neurolongevity
We will see cures or vaccines for diseases of the aging brain, says Judy Illes, PhD, professor of neurology and Canada research chair in neuroethics at the University of British Columbia. In fact, better insight into brain function in general will lead to interventions for many diseases and an overall longer life expectancy.

Neuroentertainment
Current technologies (such as video games) will merge with future ones (such as those involving neural feedback), so gamers might wear EEG-type caps that read their brainwaves and pick up their emotions. Conceivably, story lines would move forward in real time, the plot changing based on each person’s responses, says Zack Lynch, managing director of NeuroInsights, a market research and investment advisory firm.

Neuroeducation
The more we understand the neurobiology of learning—how the mind develops, what to make of differences between individual brains—the better we can “sculpt” teaching methods. Lynch predicts that educational software will be tailored to students’ individual brain patterns to improve math and language acquisition as well as creative thinking.

Neurofitness
Drugs and devices that stimulate the brain to augment our performance and mobility (so that we can run farther and faster, for example) will someday help everyone from Olympians to paraplegics, according to Illes.

Neurospirituality
New tools such as real-time fMRI technology, Lynch says, promise to accelerate our capacity to access deeply meditative and spiritual states.

 

Evolutionary_Mystic Post

We remember the admonition of our mothers: “Treat others as you want them to treat you.” But what if being nice was something we were inclined by nature to do anyway?

Renowned neuroscientist Donald Pfaff upends our entire understanding of ethics and social contracts with an intriguing proposition: the Golden Rule is hardwired into the human brain.

Pfaff, the researcher who first discovered the connections between specific brain circuits and certain behaviors, contends that the basic ethics governing our everyday lives can be traced directly to brain circuitry. Writing with popular science journalist Sandra J. Ackerman, he explains in this clear and concise account how specific brain signals induce us to consider our actions as if they were directed at ourselves—and subsequently lead us to treat others as we wish to be treated.

Brain hormones are a part of this complicated process, and The Neuroscience of Fair Play discusses how…

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meditation as treatment for addiction, anxiety…

Read Think Write Teach

Physicians Explain How Stress, 12-Step Programs Change the Brain

When Bill W. and Dr. Bob created Alcoholics Anonymous 77 years ago, they borrowed principles learned from a Christian fellowship called the Oxford Group to create their 12-step recovery program.

“They knew that their spiritual program was effective where other ‘cures’ had failed, and over the years, there have been many theories as to why,” says Dr. Harry Haroutunian, physician director of the Betty Ford Center in Palm Springs, and collaborator with Dr. Louis Teresi on the book, Hijacking the Brain: How Drug and Alcohol Addiction Hijacks our Brains – The Science Behind Twelve-Step Recovery (www.HijackingTheBrain.com).

“Now we know that stress is the fuel that feeds addiction, and that stress and drug and alcohol use cause neurological and physiological changes,” Haroutunian says. “The changes are primarily in the deep brain reward centers, the limbic brain, responsible for decisions, memory…

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TED Talks

Two of my favourite TED Talk speakers:

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor

Stroke of Insight

Dr. Brene Brown

The Power of Vulnerability

Listening to Shame

 

Related: I am Enough, Start Empathy, The Definition of Courage and the Power of Vulnerability, How Vulnerability Leads Us to Freedom

Photo credit 1, Photo credit 2