A conceptually accessible discussion of human memory research

Cognitive neuroscience is a multidisciplinary field of research that encompasses systems neuroscience, computation, and cognitive science. Its goal is to further our understanding of the relationship between cognitive phenomena and the underlying physical substrate of the brain.

Human beings are utterly complicated animals, with utterly complicated thought processes. Ultimately, however, we are controlled by chemicals and electrical impulses. This, of course, is an overly simple explanation, and the actual processes that the brain goes through in order to produce certain reactions or thoughts are very complicated.

With today’s technological boom, scientists and researchers are using computers more and more. A cognitive researcher is no exception. He might use computer simulations, for example, to test theories and hypotheses. A cognitive neuroscientist career might also involve monitoring a patient’s brain activity with special equipment.

On a larger scale, understanding how the brain is able to processes such a large variety of information, and produce such a wide variety of responses, can help guide the design of artificial intelligence systems intended to mimic human abilities, facilitating advances in medicine and engineering. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, knowing how the brain produces certain responses can lead to the development of interventions to alter the functioning of the appropriate brain areas when those responses become problematic.

One of the major aims of cognitive neuroscience is to identify the neural deficiencies that mark various psychiatry and neurodegenerative disorders. From this information it becomes potentially possible to identify methods of combating such deficiencies. Indeed biological interventions are being developed that can target specific brain areas, potentially offering great hope for improving the therapeutic treatment of mental disorders.