The Brain Supremacy: Notes from the frontiers of neuroscience, Kathleen Taylor, Oxford University Press, Pp 368 (HB), $29.95
Dr Vaidehi Nathan
NEUROSCIENCE is making huge strides as more and more information is emerging on the functioning and capabilities of the human brain. The possibilities of using these advances for various applications have become real. And with that come the ethical questions. While in some hands the capacity to control brain can be used for positive purposes, the other scenario of brain control for negative ambitions cannot be ruled out. And then there are the whole aspects of privacy and right to keep one’s mind to oneself.
|Kathleen Taylor in her book The Brain Supremacy – Notes from the frontiers of neuroscience explores the entire gamut of the subject. With the neuroscience advancements, the balance of power between sciences is changing, she says. “Tools have always been able to change the minds which wield them. What the brain supremacy offers is the power to change those human minds directly and systematically. Neuroscience and psychology, more than ever before, can offer profound manipulations of human nature…We need to stop and think about what’s coming, and in which directions we want—and don’t want—developments to go.” Neuroscience goes beyond scientists and touches politicians, media and the ordinary person on the streets, says Taylor.
The author discusses the various technological advancements in neuroscience, like PET, EEG, MRI and MEG. She skillfully integrates other sciences like physics and chemistry into neuroscience and demonstrates how they have immensely contributed to the technological marvels with regard to brain studies. Brain mapping has become a rather by-word in crime investigation.
As Kathleen Taylor rightly points out, the neuroscience advances have coincided with the communication revolution. We are able to share so much and so fast. We are willing to expose ourselves to strangers and receive information on others. Brain supremacy may exploit these. Taylor says brain supremacy belongs to us all. We can make a choice—to either use it or to let others exploit it. Governments may choose to use this as a tool to quell opposition. Terrorists may choose to use it for spreading hatred. It is a scary world where all would be affected and forced to take a stance. Beyond the sciences and theories, Taylor leads the readers into a real world of questions and choices that are bound to stare at us sooner rather than later. Are we ready or should we not be ready is her poser.
Cogent, logical, Taylor leads us into the wonder organ brain. Taylor makes a compelling reading on a fascinating and yet complicated subject. She is a freelance writer and has written on a range of subjects from consciousness to cruelty.
(Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP)