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Neuroscience Is Everywhere

From literature to architecture, academics and entrepreneurs are using neuroscience to explain everything from why we like a complex narrative thread to why round tables are more social. Christie Nicholson reports

Neuroscience is one of the more complicated subjects.

But with innovative tools like fMRI and transcranial magnetic stimulation, and projects that are reengineering a model of a human brain, scientists are working hard on cracking the neural code.

Many would argue, however, that our knowledge of how the brain works is still pretty vague.

Nonetheless all sorts of industries are jumping to use any new brain information to support their work. Neuromarketing claims to get objective truth about peoples’ preferences by decoding the “reactions” of our neurons. Companies like No Lie fMRI, Inc., are capitalizing on the potential for tools that can “read the brain” to replace the polygraph in lie detection. The literary world wants to unweave the rainbow by studying the way the brain processes literature and certain narrative techniques. And there’s even an Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture which reveals that oval tables make eye contact easier.

But scientists remind us that current brain scans only show areas of brain activity in response to simple stimuli. For instance knowing that the anterior cingulate cortex lights up when we love something, doesn’t necessarily help us understand the experience of loving.

Just like knowing the notes of a guitar riff can’t explain the sensation of soul in a blues band.

Not to say that the trend of "neuroscience everywhere" is not merited, just that its promises may be a bit premature. But science is working on it.

—Christie Nicholson

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