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May 16, 1986

The Brain Machine: The Development of Neurophysiological Thought

Author Affiliations

The University of Chicago

JAMA. 1986;255(19):2677-2678. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370190161043

That neuroscience is currently in a phase of rapid progress and high visibility must be obvious to anyone with professional interests in the biomedical sciences. What may be less evident, except perhaps to those immersed in the field, is that neuroscience has acquired something of a schizophrenic character, with rapid movement in two quite different directions.

One direction involves the exploitation of revolutionary advances in molecular and cellular biology to generate, at a rate and precision of detail previously inconceivable, new information about the elements that make up the nervous system. The other, inevitably less concerned with cellular and subcellular phenomena, consists of a new burst of progress in the age-old task of finding rigorous and productive ways to describe and investigate the most complex and sophisticated aspects of brain function. One direction of movement encourages an increasing alliance between neuroscientists and cell and molecular biologists. The other, in contrast,