Discover 10 unsolved mysteries of the brain

Discover magazine has an article on ’10 unsolved mysteries of the brain’ which describes some of the biggest challenges in contemporary neuroscience.

It’s an interesting list, not least because you’ll notice that several of the problems are conceptual rather than empirical.

For example, the list includes ‘What are emotions?’, ‘What is intelligence?’ and ‘What is consciousness?’ that depend on a good philosophical analysis rather than just more data gathering.

In contrast, some of the other mysteries include things such as ‘How is information coded in neural activity?’ which is a problem of dealing with the complexity of the signals and their effect, rather than us having problems with defining any of the problem.

The fact that brain research relies as much on conceptual developments as laboratory work is one reason why philosophers are so important to cognitive science.

I like to think of them as conceptual engineers.

Link to Discover article ’10 Unsolved Mysteries Of The Brain’.


  1. Posted August 16, 2007 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Saw a cool show(pbs) about suggestion/hypnosis last night that claimed surgery w/o anesthetic. Chick was getting verocose veins operated on. No pain, up and walking around minutes later.
    Dont know if i buy it, you ?

  2. LowLifeChamp
    Posted August 16, 2007 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Vaughan – Thanks for being attuned to this role for philosophy in cognitive science and writing well about it. As a philosopher running a small cog sci program, it’s always nice when this point becomes clear for more empirically-oriented folks.

  3. issues
    Posted August 18, 2007 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Ok. I hope the lot of you either understnad psychology or and gone to school for it. I’m trying to help my boyfriend out. He always thinks and can’t stop. I act very qickly on emotion and he takes longer because he has to think of every possible outcome. He is always thinking about inventions and has all these intellegent ideas, but he can’t shut them out. Their getting in the way of his college and our relationship. They’ve been a lot worse lately. If anyone knows on how I could help him with this. Please do help me. Thanx!

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