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MAPPING THE BRAIN AND ITS FUNCTIONS: INTEGRATING ENABLING TECHNOLOGIES INTO NEUROSCIENCE RESEARCH
and other neuroregulators in the brain, databases of the existing brain imaging data with detailed descriptions of each patient's history and specific constellation of symptoms, and databases containing information about the genes that are most likely to confer susceptibility to schizophrenia. For those whose ravaged lives testify to the burden of this disease, and for their families, needed answers are long overdue.
The Growth of Neuroscience
Neuroscience research has grown in response to critical problems
The preceding examples reflect only a small portion of the overall cost of mental and neurological diseases. These diseases, combined with drug abuse, constitute an immense financial burden to our population every year in direct care expenses and lost wages. Nearly 23 million Americans suffer from head and spinal cord injuries, hearing and speech disorders, or infectious diseases of the nervous system. More than 3.5 million people suffer from Alzheimer's, Huntington's, or Parkinson's disease, or from other degenerative disorders, including multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. More than 60 million people suffer from mental illnesses, including schizophrenia and depression, and more than 20 million abuse alcohol or drugs. Each of these problems clamors for resolution.
In response, neuroscience has made steady progress in a number of areas. Researchers have applied many new technologies, from the first oscilloscope to modern computer graphics, to the study of the brain. These technologies, combined with insightful, painstaking research, have led to the important breakthroughs witnessed in the past two or three decades and have enlarged considerably our understanding of the biological basis of disease. In addition, many talented young scientists have entered the field of neuroscience: the membership of the Society for Neuroscience has risen from 500 in 1969 to more than 17,500 in 1990. Because we now possess vast amounts of data and thousands of bright, dedicated scientists, the opportunities for successfully addressing the remaining questions about the brain have never been more promising.
Neuroscience is a national priority
Another source of the existing opportunities in neuroscience is the high priority the United States places on research aimed at alleviating mental and neurological disorders. Research support has come from various government bodies, including the National Institutes of