Last year I came across an interesting newspaper article playfully titled “You are your connections” (van Hintum, 2011), referring to the immensely popular book by neurologist Dick Swaab called “You Are Your Brain” (2010). While the latter has been thoroughly criticized for its overly reductionist perspective by scientists and philosophers alike, the connectome-movement seems to provide an integrated view of the human brain, susceptible for environmental influences while adhering to the genetic bases as laid down in the organism’s genome (Seung, 2012).
The mind-body problem has boggled our minds for many centuries on end. Philosophers like Descartes thought that there had to be some kind of immaterial spirit that is our ‘mind’, but today it seems almost self-evident that mind-body problem could and should be explained with the brain. But still, it feels like we aren’t nearly close to a solution. The field of neuroscience is therefore a promising field: many discoveries are yet to be made, and, in addition to solving the puzzle of the human mind, we could find effective treatments for many psychological and neurological disorders, and invent effective applications for individuals with disabilities. However, I came across an article of the US Department of Defense that stated that the US Army was looking for ways to “communicate through brain waves” (Miles, 2008). This sparked my interest. After so much enthusiasm that has been generated for all the amazing future possibilities of neuroscience, I cannot help but wonder: how is neuroscience used for applications that aren’t of such a positive nature?