The Brain In The 21st Century
Professor Pierre-Marie Lledo heads the Department of Neuroscience at the Institut Pasteur where he is also head of the "Memory and Perception" unit. He is also Director of Research at the CNRS where he directs the "Genes and Cognition" laboratory, and a member of the European Academy of Sciences. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard University for many years. He published Le cerveau sur mesure (The Custom-Designed Brain) with Jean-Didier Vincent. He lives in Paris.
For the first time in human history, we are about to decipher the most intimate functioning of our brain, explain how our thoughts emerge in our heads, how memory is formed, transformed and how it disappears — and also how our cognitive faculties can be enriched by our emotions.
This substantive work leads to progress in understanding the major functions of our brain, repairing defective nerve circuits, inventing new therapeutic strategies for mental health, or treating neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, scourges of modern times.
Even if very soon we can envisage operating on the human brain to modify it, it is more difficult to determine the change by which our central unit will have lost its human characteristics to become a tool-object of our own creation. Can we modify our states of consciousness without altering our identity? Where are the acceptable borderlines in modifying the great physiological functions and preserving human traits?