What are the major goals of pain neuroscience? Why do you do what you do? Is the ultimate goal the eradication of all pain? And with the experimental framework that we currently operate with, can we even answer the questions we’re asking? I was prompted to think about this by this sobering article from Jonas and Kording:
And also its antecedent:
And also this:
He and his fellow curmudgeons argue that brains are special because of the behavior they create—everything from a predator’s pounce to a baby’s cry. But the study of such behavior is being de-prioritized, or studied “almost as an afterthought.” Instead, neuroscientists have been focusing on using their new tools to study individual neurons, or networks of neurons. According to Krakauer, the unspoken assumption is that if we collect enough data about the parts, the workings of the whole will become clear. If we fully understand the molecules that dance across a synapse, or the electrical pulses that zoom along a neuron, or the web of connections formed by many neurons, we will eventually solve the mysteries of learning, memory, emotion, and more. “The fallacy is that more of the same kind of work in the infinitely postponed future will transform into knowing why that mother’s crying or why I’m feeling this way,” says Krakauer. And, as he and his colleagues argue, it will not. How Brain Scientists Forgot That Brains Have Owners
What are we actually doing? Are we just collecting data and hoping that someday it will all make sense? What are we aiming for? And is our target even achievable using the methods and assumptions we operate with now?