New Scientist has an excellent cover article on ‘The five ages of the brain’, looking at how the brain changes as we grow and how these transformations are reflected in our lives.
It breaks the life span down into ‘five ages’, with a short article for each – tackling gestation, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age.
Each gives a concise introduction to some of the latest findings on how the brain differs in each time period, although for a slight counter-point, I would recommend a recent edition of ABC Radio National’s All in the Mind.
The programme takes a sceptical look at the emerging neuroscience of adolescence, largely based on the fact that adolescence as a distinct developmental stage is a relatively recent cultural invention of the Western world.
Psychologist Robert Epstein argues that the differences in the teen brain are relatively minor, and that the stereotype of the ‘teen in turmoil’ is not a biological fact of brain development, but a result of the cultural pressures put upon adolescents.
The NewSci collection and the All In the Mind programme complement each other nicely and tackle some of the current hot issues in developmental neuroscience.
Link to NewSci ‘Five Ages of the Brain’ special.
Link to AITM on ‘The modern teenager: myth or marvel?’
2 thoughts on “A life’s journey in neuroscience”
There have been different stage theories including ones by Eric Erickson and Jean Piaget (and even one in William Shakespeare’s As You Like It). The problem seems to be that there is no clear line marking the transition from one stage to another or even that everyone goes through the same stages in life.
Neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous system. The Society for Neuroscience was founded in 1969,but the study of the brain started a long time ago. Such studies span the structure, function, evolutionary history, development, genetics, biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, informatics, computational neuroscience and pathology of the nervous system. Traditionally it is seen as a branch of biological sciences.
However, recently there has been a surge in the convergence of interest from many allied disciplines, including cognitive and neuro-psychology, computer science, statistics, physics, philosophy, and medicine. The scope of neuroscience has now broadened to include any systematic scientific experimental and theoretical investigation of the central and peripheral nervous system of biological organisms. The empirical methodologies employed by neuroscientists have been enormously expanded, from biochemical and genetic analysis of dynamics of individual nerve cells and their molecular constituents to imaging representations of perceptual and motor tasks in the brain. Many recent theoretical advances in neuroscience have been aided by the use of computational modeling