speed of thought. These technologies will open new doors to explore how the brain records, processes, uses, stores, and retrieves vast quantities of information, and shed light on the complex links between brain function and behavior.
In January 2013, the European Union announced that as part of its effort to advance future and emerging technologies, it was proposing to devote €1 billion over 10 years to the Human Brain Project,37 which is intended to create the world’s largest experimental facility for developing the most detailed model of the brain for “studying how the human brain works and ultimately to develop personalized treatment of neurological and related diseases.”
One measure of the field’s maturation is the growth in the annual number of neuroscience publications, which has increased by a factor of 8 to 10 over the past 20 years.38 In that period the membership of the Society for Neuroscience more than doubled, from 18,976 in 1991 to 42,576 in 2011, and annual meeting attendance increased from 16,447 in 1991 to 32,357 in 2011.39
Advances in the neuroscience of memory (with ramifications for some of the applications discussed below) provide one illustration of scientific progress in the field. The neuroscience of memory addresses neurological processes for encoding information for storage and future retrieval. It is understood today that short-term memory capacity resides in the hippocampus, encoded by measurable strengthening or weakening of synapses, long-term potentiation, and long-term depression. Components of memories are transferred to cortical structures, where they are consolidated into their long-term, stable, protein-synthesis-dependent form during sleep and rest. Neuroscience research using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has demonstrated functional connections between the hippocampus and the medial prefrontal cortex. Genetic knock-out studies
38 This factor is derived from data extracted by the committee from the Web of Knowledge/Web of Science with the following query:
Topic=(neuroscience);Refined by: Research Areas=( NEUROSCIENCES NEUROLOGY ) AND Research Areas=( NEUROSCIENCES NEUROLOGY) AND Document Types=( ARTICLE OR MEETING OR CASE REPORT OR ABSTRACT OR REFERENCE MATERIAL OR REPORT )
39 UN International Bioethics Committee, “Initial Reflections on the Principle of Nondiscrimination and Nonstigmatization,” Unesco.org, August 23, 2012, available at unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002174/217421e.pdf.