From the Editors; Mysteries of the Mind; Scientific American Presents; by Rennie; 1 Page(s)
Master detective Hercule Poirot, the hero of many an Agatha Christie novel, boasted repeatedly about the power of "the little gray cells" in his head to solve the toughest mysteries. For philosophers, writers and other thinkers, however, those little gray cells have been the greatest mystery of all. How do a couple of pounds of spongy, electrically active tissue give rise to a psychological essence? How do we emerge from the neural thicket?
Empirical scientists may be relative newcomers to this investigation (unlike the philosophers, they've been on the case for only a few hundred years), but they have taken long strides forward in that short time. In this special issue of Scientific American, some of the leading researchers in neuroscience and in psychology discuss how much is now known about the nature of consciousness, memory, emotions, creativity, dreams and other mental phenomena. Their answers suggest that some of these mysteries may be largely solved within our lifetimes--even if new ones are posed in the process.