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Thursday’s Guest Blog: John Bailey on Books

SUPREME FOR NOW, BUT FOR HOW LONG CAN BRAINS REIGN?

The speed of developments in neuroscience could mean that anything on the subject published more than a couple of years ago is bound to be behind the curve. But patently this is not the case so far as The Brain Supremacy is concerned. Author Kathleen Taylor, who is affiliated to the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics at Oxford University, has built into her book elementary as well as far-reaching factors about neuroscience that are fundamental to an understanding of this emerging science.

This makes The Brain Supremacy, published by OUP in 2012, a reference source of basic knowledge on the subject and an informed guide to future innovation. She tackles head-on the problems as well as the advantages that developments in neuroscience will have on people’s thinking, feelings and even their existence. Not unexpectedly morality is integral to her thinking as she assesses technologies that could change our view of the world around us; that could even alter our perceptions of good and evil. These and other difficult topics that include telepathy and epigenetics in brain development, are covered expertly but in a highly readable form.

Not far from all the provisos that relate to the future of neuroscience, we are reminded that the amount we have learned about the brain and its working is far outweighed by what we still do not know. This includes just how closely bound are our brains to our immune systems, hormones and other bodily functions.

Such mysteries are guaranteed to keep us closely involved, at least until we reach the section on future developments. After thoroughly exploring how the brain has reached its status of supremacy, this section is the most intriguing because it is a guide to how we might come to terms with a new understanding of ourselves. However, the warning is there, that infinite care is needed when it comes to developing technologies that can bypass our skulls and directly manipulate our brains.

It is unlikely, Kathleen Taylor writes, that such technologies will be morally neutral and consequently she does not avoid detailing the likely costs that must be paid for brain supremacy to retain its exalted position.

Read more here about The Brain Supremacy and other titles by this acclaimed author including Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control and Cruelty. For information about Dr Taylor’s Fellowship at the Institute for Food, Brain and Behaviour, click here.

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