28 September 2010

IQ and HBD Deniers Being Backed Into a Corner

The project is novel in its size; most brain-imaging studies have looked at tens to hundreds of brains. Scanning so many people will shed light on the normal variability within the brain structure of healthy adults, which will in turn provide a basis for examining how neural "wiring" differs in such disorders as autism and schizophrenia.

The researchers also plan to collect genetic and behavioral data, testing participants' sensory and motor skills, memory, and other cognitive functions, and deposit this information along with brain scans in a public database (although the patients' personal information will be stripped out). Scientists around the world can then use the database to search for the genetic and environmental factors that influence the structure of the brain. _TR
Technology Review provides more information on the Human Connectome Project, sponsored by NIH. The ambitious project aims to do far more than to build more accurate maps of the human brain connectome. This project aims to do some genuine cognitive science. And that is likely to make a lot of HBD (human biodiversity) deniers very nervous.
"We want to learn as much as we can, not only about the typical patterns of brain connectivity, but also about the differences in wiring that make each of us a unique individual," says David Van Essen, a neuroscientist at Washington University in St. Louis, who is one of the project leaders. "If you're good at math, and I'm better at certain types of memory, can we identify some of the wiring characteristics that account for those differences?"

The most detailed studies to date of the neural circuits that connect one brain cell to another have focused on animal brains, because scientists can examine the animals' living tissue cells and their networks under a microscope. "We don't know how our species specifically is wired up," says Michael Huerta, associate director of the Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science at the National Institute of Mental Health, and director of the Connectome project. "There is an entire class of data that is missing from neuroscience that is fundamentally important for how the brain works and how it breaks down in different disorders." And because researchers will be scanning only identical and fraternal twins and their siblings, the scientists can get a sense of the role that genetics and environment play in shaping brain structure. Structures of the brain that are highly dictated by genes will be more similar in identical twins than in fraternal twins, for example. _TR
There are more technical details at the link above. It promises to be a fascinating project on many levels.

Perhaps the scientists involved in the huge project have not yet taken the pledge of strict political correctness. Perhaps they have not gotten the memo directing them to avoid any research which might be used to explain cognitive or behavioural differences on the basis of genetics.

All issues of political correctness aside, the modern tools of science and computation are giving us the potential to finally understand many aspects of ourselves which had been closed to us. Some of these things may prove unsavoury, but in order to wisely move into the future we must be honest about our past and present.

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Blogger juol said...

thank you

Wednesday, 29 September, 2010  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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