The Goal of Neuroscience Research

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The Goal of Neuroscience Research

Trying to understand the human brain represents one of the great frontiers in modern science. It is not just a fascinating exercise in modern biology and psychology. It also has profound implications for the future of human health, and for the fabric of our society. Understanding the biological underpinnings of our mind - how it functions normally, what makes it go astray, and how to make it right again - is one of our great challenges as we enter the 21st century. The annual cost of neurological diseases on our society is enormous. Neurological and psychiatric diseases and disorders affect about 1 in every 5 Americans annually, and cost us an estimated $400 billion in direct costs and lost productivity. The human toll is incalculable.

The problem of trying to understand the human brain is daunting: billions of neurons each make thousands of specific connections (called synapses) with one another, and the dynamic information that flows across these connections controls the very essence of how we behave, perceive, and remember. Our brain is by far the most complex tissue in our body, with a greater diversity of cell types than in all other organs and tissues combined. It is estimated that over one third of our approximately 35,000 human genes are dedicated to the construction, functioning, and dynamic changes of the human brain.

Today, neuroscience transcends the boundaries that define traditional academic departments and traditional modes of education and support. Once housed within anatomy or physiology departments, neuroscience has emerged as its own multidisciplinary field. Understanding the brain depends upon technical and intellectual advances from almost every area of modern science from psychology to biology to physical science and engineering.

The Institute is affiliated with the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience .