A recent article in Wired Magazine by Jonah Lehrer entitled, “The Brain, Revealed” points out the massive research project underway to map the entire human brain. The project is funded by one of the founders of Microsoft, Paul Allen. And with any large contribution to a particular scientific endeavor one usually gets a research building named after them, so the current brain mapping project is taking place at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle.
Working on the brain today is the equivalent of working on the web in the early 1990′s, the software industry in California in the early 1980′s, or being Isaac Newton and transforming the physical world in 1687; that is to say, the fields comprising the brain sciences (neuroscience, cognitive science, neurobiology, etc.) are poised for a revolution. We know a bit about the brain and understand which parts of the brain light up when we speak, think, experience pain, etc., but don’t really understand how the brain produces thought and action vis-à-vis the real world (the brain game is not as easy as monitoring the firing of a neuron and correlating, or reducing it to, Joe burning his finger with a match).
So, if you’re looking for the next hot field or area look no further than brain science. As soon as the academic world figures out how the brain works we’ll see commercial applications for products, services, etc. (just like the internet developed in the academic community). If you’re currently a student now is the time to arm yourself with a basic understanding of cognitive psychology, neuroscience, neurobiology, computer science, and, yes, Philosophy (or the sub field philosophy of mind) so that you’re prepared for the next big thing!